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N-deal not in cold storage: Congress
October 17, 2007 18:34 IST
Declaring that the Indo-US nuclear deal was "not in cold storage", the Congress on Wednesday said if need be there could be more meetings of the United Progressive Alliance-Left committee after October 22 to "narrow down the differences".
The party also dismissed as "speculation" that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] is contemplating to resign, "hurt" by the behaviour of the allies on the nuclear deal issue.
"The deal is not in cold storage and is very much in the offing," All India Congress Committee spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said at the party briefing in Delhi.
Asked about "certain difficulties" about which the prime minister has spoken to US President George W Bush [Images], Ahmed said, "It is not correct to say that the deal has been put on hold or on the back-burner."
Replying to a question on whether the prime minister was contemplating resignation, he said Dr Singh has full confidence of all the allies and there was no question of either him or the government resigning.
"I am saying this with full responsibility," Ahmed said.
Dismissing suggestions that Dr Singh has become a "lame-duck" prime minister, he said, "He is as competent and as powerful as when he took over the high office."
"We all are for the deal and we will come to a decision after discussions, which will help narrow down the differences. We are having a meeting on October 22 and if need be there could be another meeting and then another," Ahmed said.
He also recalled that International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei had said there was no time-frame to start negotiations on the safeguards agreement and added that the same thing has been suggested by US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher.
Ahmed also disagreed with senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Kishenchand Advani's assessment that the deal was not desirable.
Ahmed recalled that the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders used to say earlier that the discussions on the deal were started during the National Democratic Alliance rule and Congress should not take credit on the issue.
Besides, he took a dig at the BJP and Advani, reminding them that they had attempted to sign CTBT when in power and the leader of opposition had even visited the CIA headquarters.
"Those who stay in glass houses should not throw stones at others," he said.