India trying to seek broadest possible consensus on n-deal: PM

March 5th, 2008 - 8:13 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday said his government was still seeking the “broadest possible consensus” to move ahead with the India-US nuclear deal which “was good for India’s energy security and the world.” “We also continue to seek the broadest possible consensus within the country to enable the next step to be taken. I believe that such cooperation is good for us for our energy security and for the world,” Manmohan Singh told parliament, signalling his government’s willingness to push ahead with the deal which continues to be opposed by the government’s Left allies.

“We are presently engaged in negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for an India-specific safeguards agreement,” he said, indicating the government will go ahead with the deal after doing its best to bring the Left allies on board.

Vigorously defending the deal, which continues to be mired in domestic politics, Manmohan Singh said it was important for the country’s energy security.

“We continue to make efforts to make this possible in a manner in which we can maximise the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” he said.

As the clock ticks away for the nuclear deal, the government is engaged in a last-ditch effort to persuade Communist parties who have opposed the deal on the grounds that it will make India subservient to US strategic interests.

India has nearly completed its draft pact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has to be approved by the Left parties before the government can proceed with the deal.

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher Wednesday reminded India about a “very tight deadline” for completing the nuclear deal but expressed optimism that the two sides are committed to it and “can still make it happen.”

Boucher also underlined the need for concluding the next two steps - India’s IAEA pact and a change in guidelines by the Nuclear Suppliers Group - by May so that the deal can be ratified by the US Congress by July.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday said the government was trying to build “broad political consensus” on the deal, which will open doors of civil nuclear commerce also with other countries like Russia and France.

“We will continue to seek broad political consensus within the country to take forward our engagement on this issue with other countries,” Mukherjee said in a suo moto statement in the Lok Sabha.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Politics |