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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] returned from New York and Paris with the Indo-French nuclear deal in the bag and the Indo-US deal almost on the verge of going through. It was a mission he had pushed against all odds, leaving a reluctant Congress no option but to back him.
India, France ink landmark nuclear deal
When rediff.com asked him if he was just a trifle disappointed that the Indo-US nuclear deal could not come to fruition before he landed back in New Delhi [Images], Dr Singh replied in the negative saying he was not disappointed since the US was preoccupied with a major financial crisis and that was the reason for the delay.
He said despite that the House of Representatives had passed the 123 agreement and now it was a matter of time before the Congress took it up.
N-pact adds 'new dimension' to ties with France
On the operationalisation of the nuclear agreement, Dr Singh said, "It is a framework agreement. There are several steps to be taken by both countries, to go through various procedures. It will take quite some time before this agreement or other agreements that we sign are to be operationalised. I think the sequencing will be decided on its own merits."
The prime minister said he would not comment on the Indo-US nuclear deal, but would like to see the final outcome of the process that is underway in the US Congress.
India committed to resolving issues with Pak: PM
Asked whether it would become an electoral issue and whether the Congress could capitalize on it, the prime minister said, "As far as its effects on elections, I am not an astrologer, but I do believe that if our concerns are addressed properly, the nuclear initiative will help our country to move forward to manage its energy situation in a manner that is consistent with our national goals of combating climate change through developing clean sources of energy."
Asked to comment on the outcome of his visit to the United States, where Dr Singh was seen to be primarily focused on the successful completion of the nuclear deal, he said the visit was not designed to achieve any specific outcome.
Dr Singh-Zardari meeting serves short term purposes
The visit was designed primarily to enable "me to address the United Nations General Assembly, to meet important leaders. I attach great importance to regularly meeting our Chinese counterparts, and I had a very good meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao. I had an extensive review of four years of our interactions with the United States and I think it was very useful.
"I met a number of other leaders like Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, the prime minister of Norway, the prime minister of Netherlands, the President of Namibia, and the exchange of views with world leaders is itself an educational experience for me," said the prime minister.
Too early to decide Cong's PM candidate: Dr Singh
Dr Singh was of the view that in the last four years the world's perception on India had changed and that world powers needed India to be involved.
He said apart from addressing the General Assembly to project India's view point people want to know what India is thinking because the world wants to engage India. They increasingly recognise that whether it is reform of the Security Council or the International Financial System or the enlargement of the G-8 there is a growing recognition that India must be actively involved in the reform process.
The prime minister described his first-get-to-know-meeting with the Pakistan President Zardari as 'an essay in mutual comprehension'.
"I had not met him before and the two of us had one-on-one talks that lasted for 45 minutes, the outcome of which you have seen in the form of a joint statement. As I said in my address to the General Assembly we welcome the return of democracy to Pakistan.
"We are committed to resolving all outstanding issues between our two countries through peaceful dialogue. There are certain concerns we have about infiltration, about violations of ceasefire, these I did raise and I hope that in the days and months to come the Government of Pakistan will have the wisdom to address some of them," said the prime minister.
Dr Singh was noncommittal on the dates of his Pakistan visit saying it depended upon many factors and that the visits had to be prepared well.
"We now have a new government in Pakistan, they mean well and I sincerely hope that we can move forward to strengthen our interaction with Pakistan," said Dr Singh even as he has been voicing concerns over the violations across the LOC and the firing on the border in the last few weeks.
On concerns from the border on the other side with Bangladesh and the problem of illegal migration, the prime minister said, "We are opposed to all illegal migration into our country- Bangladesh or any other country. I would not like this to become a political issue. I think there is a complete unity in our country that illegal migration is not something we should encourage in any manner.
"So this is not an issue that should divide our political parties. Illegal migrants constitute a problem -- sometimes they can indulge in illegal activities -- but I do not think it is an issue of controversy or debate- all political parties would like to prevent a situation where large-scale illegal migration takes place."
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