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'Indo-US nuclear deal will benefit both nations'

November 27, 2007 12:15 IST

The president emeritus of Asia Society and former Kennedy administration official Phillips Talbot has said the consummation of the India-United States civil nuclear deal is imperative for the cementing of a long-term Indo-US relationship. He hopes that both the Left parties in India that oppose the agreement and the non-proliferation lobby in the US would refrain from seeking to scuttle the accord.

The 92-year-old Talbot, author of the recently published An American Witness to India's Partition, served as the assistant secretary of state for near eastern and south Asian affairs from 1961 to 1965. He said the nuclear agreement would benefit both countries as it would ensure strategic ties between Washington and New Delhi "for 20 or 30 years".

"Having a good relationship between India and the US will be very important for stability and progress in the world. I've believed in that relationship from my early years in India. When I was in the Kennedy administration, I tried to work for it. But now, it is particularly important," said Talbot.

In 1938, the New York-based Institute of Current World Affairs awarded the then 23-year-old Talbot a fellowship to visit India and learn about the intricacies of the nation. During that time and the years that followed, he interacted with the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah. In the form of several letters to the institute, he graphically recounted the build-up to Indian and Pakistani independence.

Talbot later returned to India as the India correspondent for the Chicago Daily News. Asked why the nonproliferation lobby, which fears the deal with India would lead to unraveling of the nonproliferation regime, doesn't take into account India's impeccable nonproliferation track record, Talbot said, "Maybe, it's hard to argue that just because a government has followed one course until now, it's going to forever follow the same course".

He told rediff.com that he believes this has become clear with the Indian opposition, which has said that this agreement would tie down India from having full freedom to test more weapons if it wanted to."

"So, I think in order to get this through, it's going to take real work at both ends. But I think it's a good deal and therefore I hope it can happen," he added.

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC