India to look for ‘broad political consensus’ on n-deal

March 3rd, 2008 - 5:24 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) Hopeful of overcoming differences with its Leftist allies, the Indian government Monday said it will search for “broad political consensus” within the country to take forward nuclear cooperation with the US and other countries. Making a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said: “We will continue to seek broad political consensus within the country to take forward our engagement on this issue with other countries.”

He was seeking to allay suspicions among the Left parties that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was planning to forge ahead on the India-US nuclear deal and give the green light to signing a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), especially after a “populist” budget that seems to signal early elections.

Mukherjee reminded the MPs that the government had been engaged with the IAEA to arrive at an agreed text for an India-specific safeguards agreement. He pointed out that its conclusion would enable the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to change its guidelines in favour of India, which will open to doors to civilian nuclear cooperation with various countries.

“This will open the door to civil nuclear cooperation with various countries, including Russia, USA, France, UK, etc., with many of whom the necessary enabling bilateral agreements for such trade have been discussed and are in various stages of finalization,” he said, adding that this will put an “end to the unfair technology denial regimes and sanctions that India has been faced with for over three decades”.

He also clarified that India’s “rights and obligations” will only be based on the bilateral agreement with the US and not on its domestic legislation, known as the Hyde Act.

“Let me take this opportunity to reiterate that the Hyde Act is an enabling provision that is between the executive and the legislative organs of the US government. India’s rights and obligations regarding civil nuclear cooperation with the US arise only from the bilateral 123 Agreement that we have agreed upon with the US,” said Mukherjee.

In a wide-ranging speech touching on several foreign policy issues, Mukherjee also referred to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China and his subsequent visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which attracted protest from Chinese authorities.

“The fact that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India has been clearly conveyed to the Chinese side by the government of India,” Mukherjee told the lower house of parliament.

The northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which borders China, has led to problems between the two countries with China laying claim over it.

Recently, China had refused to give visa to an Indian bureaucrat, part of an Indian delegation visiting China, on the grounds that the official was posted in Arunachal Pradesh and as it is part of Chinese territory he did not require a visa.

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