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UPA-Left committee on N-deal to meet again on May 28
May 06, 2008 19:49 IST
The United Progressive Alliance-Left committee on the Indo-US nuclear deal on Tuesday decided to meet in New Delhi again on May 28 after the government made a vain bid to get the outside allies' support to go ahead with securing the India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
External Affairs Minister and the government's chief negotiator with the Left on the issue, Pranab Mukherjee merely said after the eighth round that in-depth discussions were held on the India-specific safeguards agreement between India and the global atomic watchdog IAEA.
"Further discussions will be held in the next meeting of the committee on May 28," he said in the presence of Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury after the eighth round.
Forward Bloc leader Debabrata Biswas, who also attended the meeting, said the government wanted the Committee to give a go-ahead to it to get the approval of IAEA's Board of Governors for the safeguards agreement, but they sought clarifications on the issue.
Following this, he said, the committee agreed to meet again on May 28, he added. The Left parties will meet on May 23 to decide their strategy ahead of the committee's next meeting, Biswas said.
Minister of State in the PMO Prithviraj Chavan was the only person in the 15-member committee who did not attend the meeting as he was out of station.
Biswas sought to differentiate between the IAEA Safeguards Agreement and the 123 Agreement with the US saying, "The Left parties have no problem with the India-specific safeguards pact. Our main objection is the Hyde Act and the 123 agreement," he said.
According to Biswas, the government sought permission from the Left parties to go ahead with the safeguards agreement with the IAEA and 'close it'.
"They cannot move ahead without our clearance and we have sought some more clarification," Biswas said.
He noted that the pact would also enable India to enter into nuclear cooperation with countries other than the US.
The last round of UPA-Left meeting was held on March 17. The Left parties and the government have been exchanging notes on related issues, but no details are available.
Informed sources said these related to several political and technical matters like uninterrupted fuel supplies.
The Left has been opposing the deal on the grounds that conditions laid down by the Hyde Act would impinge on India pursuing an independent foreign policy and make it 'subservient' to US strategic interests worldwide.
India had concluded talks with the IAEA on a specific draft safeguards agreement in the last week of February, more than three months after it began the process.
The safeguards agreement with the IAEA and a waiver from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers' Group to enable India participate in nuclear commerce are the two pre-requisites to operationalise the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, which seeks to end New Delhi's nuclear isolation.