‘N-deal to reach US congress by year-end’

June 21st, 2008 - 7:24 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) Even as Left leaders remained steadfast in their opposition to the India-US nuclear deal, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi hoped Saturday that it will come up before the US Congress for approval before the year-end. Asked if the nuclear deal will be able to go through the phases of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) before being presented to US congress by the end of 2008, Dasmunsi said: “The way things are moving, it may so happen.”

Dasmunsi, who often serves as the cabinet spokesman on government policies, was speaking with Karan Thapar in the TV interview programme, “Devil’s Advocate”.

But he was not sure whether the deal would be approved by the George W. Bush administration that ends its term this year or by the next US president.

To a question if the government would defy the Left leaders and go ahead with the deal, he noted, “We are not letting our prime minister down.”

Congress president Sonia Gandhi was as committed to the nuclear deal as the prime minister, Dasmunsi said, adding that he felt there were attempts to create a “mischievous difference” between Gandhi and Manmohan Singh on the nuclear deal.

He asserted that all of the Congress’ partners in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) were firmly behind the government in supporting the deal.

He was, however, evasive on the position of the Left parties, which support the government from the outside, but hoped they might be convinced to drop their opposition.

However, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Saturday kept up their opposition, accusing the government of “promoting a bad nuclear deal” backed by “mythical energy claims” with the “real intent” of strengthening India-US strategic ties.

“Mythical energy claims are being made in order to promote a bad nuclear deal. Energy is just a cover. The real intent is India-US strategic ties,” said the CPI-M politburo in a statement.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who was to leave for Australia Saturday morning, postponed his visit by a few hours and held a meeting with the prime minister and Defence Minister A.K. Antony to review their negotiations with the Left parties.

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