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Obama lends his support to N-deal

July 11, 2008 18:12 IST

This should be music to the cheer leaders of the Nuclear deal.  Democratic Party's presidential nominee Barack Obama [Images] has said he is "reluctant to seek changes" in the Indo-US deal and hopes to see this process concluded before the end of 2008.

Obama's comments come at a crucial time as it allays fears expressed by the UPA government that should the nuclear deal not be sealed in 2008, a Democratic successor to US President George Bush [Images] could impose new conditions on the existing agreement.

In an interview to Outlook  that delves on Mahtama Gandhi, Pakistan and Musharraf,   Obama said the existing nuclear agreement effectively balances a range of important issues  -- from America's strategic relationship with India to its non-proliferation concerns to India's energy needs. "I am therefore reluctant to seek changes," Obama said.

Asked whether an Obama administration in 2009 would seek to reopen or even scrap the deal if it isn't clinched this year, Obama replied, "A final judgement on the deal...must await the IAEA's approval of a safeguards agreement with India and changes to be agreed (upon) by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). At that point, the US Congress will decide whether to approve the agreement. I continue to hope this process can be concluded before the end of the year."

He admitted he had some reservations about the "original agreement", but subsequently concluded that it would "enhance our (US-India) partnership and deepen our cooperation" and help combat global warming.

Obama told Outlook that as an anthropologist, his mother "did rural development work in India. In my own life, I am fortunate to have close Indian-American friends."

Among his other Indian influences was Mahatma Gandhi [Images]. About him, Obama said, "Throughout my life, I have always looked to Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration, because he embodies the kind of transformational change that can be made when ordinary people come together to do extraordinary things. That's why his portrait hangs in my Senate office: to remind me that real results will come not just from Washington--they will come from the people."                                                                                                  

Obama said he intends to continue with the tradition established by President Bush and President Bill Clinton [Images] to visit India during their tenure.

 Asked in what areas he would like to see US-India relations grow, his reply was, "Across-the-board would be the short answer."

He said certain specific areas--counter-terrorism, US-India military cooperation, promotion of democracy in South Asia and beyond, combating the climate crisis and global poverty.

"I would also like to see agriculture give a higher priority in our relations, as India pursues its goal of a 'Second Green Revolution'," Obama said.

The presidential nominee also spoke against the Bush administration's Pakistan policy. Obama said, "I expressed early and regular concern about putting all of our eggs in the Musharraf basket."

He said his aim as president would be to emphasise support for democracy and social and economic development, not only counter-terrorism. "We must align ourselves with Pakistan and its people, not just one individual," Obama declared.

 Obama spoke at length about the war in Iraq, his exposure to different cultures of the world, on Islam, and his grandmother who lives in a village in Africa without running water and indoor plumbing.


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