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US does not foresee reopening N-deal negotiations: Burns
Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | December 04, 2007 11:06 IST
The United States has said it does not foresee negotiations on the civil nuclear accord being re-opened either by it or India, as the 123 Agreement is "done" and "completed" and hoped that the deal would come up for a final voting in the US Congress early 2008.
"On the 123 Agreement, we finished those negotiations on July 22, 2007, in Washington. That agreement is finished, it's done, it's completed, it just stands to be approved finally by both governments. I think with goodwill and hard work, it will be," Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said at a media roundtable in Singapore on Monday.
"But I do not foresee it being re-opened, by either side. Not by the United States, and I don't think by India either," the official said.
Reaffirming that the deal is in the "best interests" of both the countries, Burns said. "It is part and parcel of a new effort to try to elevate the US-India relationship into a strategic partnership," he added.
"We are confident that this deal should go forward; of course, we now need to wait for the Indian government to make a final decision on putting the safeguards agreement forward, but we believe it's in the best interest of both of us that it does so," Burns said.
The step which will follow is to convince the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group to act by consensus to support international change, to treat India in a "more fair and effective manner," he said and hoped that the final vote on the deal in the US Congress would come up early 2008.
"There will be a final vote in the US Congress, we hope at the very beginning of 2008. And then this deal will be finished. It will be historic, because it will deliver India from its isolation in the civil nuclear field of the last 35 years," he added.
The deal will give India "extraordinary economic and technological benefits" and will allow the US and "all of us in international community" to have a more equal relationship with New Delhi, Burns said.
"In that respect, it's a fundamentally important agreement. We hope and trust it will go forward, but I don't want to comment on the internal politics of India, that's for the Indian government to do, not for me," he said in response to a question, according to a transcript of the roundtable.
On a more general level, the senior official said India had figured in the discussions he has had with the government of Singapore.
"We had extensive conversations about the opportunities for us in our respective relations with the Indian government. Of course, we in the United States have embarked on a strategic partnership with India. Singapore and India have very close ties and there is extensive conversation about the positive opportunities that we see that emanate from the rise of India," Burns said.