Pranab meets Karat to push n-dealJune 17th, 2008 - 7:56 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) In a last ditch effort to push forward the India-US civil nuclear deal, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met CPI-M leader Prakash Karat Monday evening and sought the Left’s support for an India specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Mukherjee, who heads the 15-member United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-Left nuclear panel, had a one-hour talk with Karat during which he reiterated the government’s request to allow them to finalise the India-specific safeguards agreement before International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed El Baradei completes his term in July.
Mukherjee is believed to have told Karat that the communists’ apprehension that finalising the IAEA pact would put the contentious agreement on auto pilot is “wrong”.
The UPA-Left panel holds a crucial meeting Wednesday.
According to sources, the foreign affairs minister told Karat that the Left has to “trust” the government and that the government has not taken any steps without the communist allies’ consent so far.
Karat reportedly told Mukherjee that the Left still has apprehensions over the deal but he would discuss the minister’s new appeal with the other Left allies and get back to the government. The meeting was held from 8.30-9.30 p.m. at Mukherjee’s residence.
The minister is also said to have told Karat that the government would in future not make any move without discussing with the Left parties.
The sources also said Mukherjee told the Left leader that the UPA government was in no mood to sign the deal without majority in parliament.
According to a senior Congress minister, even party chief Sonia Gandhi has clarified that the nuclear deal should not come at the cost of “sacrificing the government.”
“We do not want to create a bad precedence by pushing the deal if the government is reduced to a minority,” the minister, who did not wish to be identified, told IANS.
Once the IAEA agreement is finalised, it will be placed before the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to get an “India-specific” exemption to its guideline, thus clearing the way for nuclear commerce between New Delhi and NSG member countries.
Once it passes through the NSG, the US Congress will have to decide if it wants to give its nod to the 123 Agreement to change its domestic laws to allow trade between US companies and India on civilian nuclear energy and technology.
The CPI-M-led Left parties, which extend crucial legislative support to the UPA government, had given the green signal for negotiation with the IAEA but insisted that it could not be finalised without their approval.
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