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N-deal crucial for strategic partnership: India
June 09, 2006 13:58 IST
Visiting Minister of State for Industries Ashwani Kumar has dismissed reports that the India-US civilian nuclear deal has reached a 'stalemate' since the Congress is yet to act over the "landmark agreement" reached between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W Bush.
"US lawmakers have to keep in mind that the civilian nuclear deal is crucial for cementing the strategic partnership between the two countries and this can happen only if the deal is approved by the US Congress," Kumar told reporters on Thursday.
He, however, made it clear that "nothing that is inconsistent with last year's July 18 statement or beyond the statement is acceptable to India."
"The Indian position on this has been made abundantly clear to the US negotiators on more than several occasions and they are fully conscious of the sensitivities in India about the situation.
"It is fairly understood that the Indian government will stick to the position as endorsed by its Parliament," the minister added.
In an informal interaction with reporters in Washington, Kumar said, "We have put all our cards on the table and would want the deal as outlined in the July 18 statement to go through. But the important point is that a very prominent 'think tank' has testified to the utility of the deal referring to the Council of Foreign Relations report on the deal released June 7."
Stating that the civilian nuclear deal was an extremely important component that has been welded into the strategic partnership, the minister said, "So to say everything is 'hunky-dory' even if the deal fails is not quite right. Not that India and US will stop talking to each other, they will continue to engage each other that the strategic partnership be reinforced if this deal goes through."
Kumar said he was fully confident that the initial legislation concerning the nuke deal would get through the US Congress.
He said in his talks with various officials, Congressmen and Senators, he felt that "there is wide support in principle in the US for the nuke deal, despite certain issues that need to be addressed".
In the forthcoming meeting with Indian and US negotiators sometime later in June, he hoped that further progress would be made in ironing out of any issues that may be outstanding.
"We believe the Indo-US relationship has entered a new phase and this is a historic moment to cement a purposeful engagement between them. Towards this end we will continue to engage with Congressmen and Senators in pursuit of the deal,"
On certain doubts raised by non-proliferation experts and others, he said "there may be some differences in nuances and perceptions and focus among them, but most of the 'think tanks' have endorsed the deal," the minister added.