Government keeps n-deal hopes alive

June 27th, 2008 - 6:14 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) The government Friday held out hope for the India-US nuclear deal with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee stating that it would be “possible to arrive at an acceptable settlement” after addressing the concerns of different parties. “We are currently engaged in resolving the issues. It will be possible to arrive at an acceptable settlement,” Mukherjee told reporters when asked whether the government was planning to go ahead with the nuclear deal.

“I am aware of the constraints of time. Concerns expressed by different parties will have to be addressed,” Mukherjee said at a joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Mukherjee’s comments come two days after the ruling United Progressive Alliance held a crucial meeting with its Communist allies. It ended with a hardening of opposition by the Left parties who are opposed to the government going ahead with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreement.

With time running out for implementing the nuclear deal in view of the November presidential elections in the US, the government has to take a political call soon on going ahead with the deal. The government is trying to force the issue with the Left before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s proposed visit to attend the G-8 summit in Japan July 7-9.

The government has virtually given the go-ahead to the foreign policy establishment and the department of atomic energy to prepare the final draft of safeguards agreement which could be signed with the IAEA.

If it decides on the deal, it could lead to a parting of ways with its Communist allies on whose support it depends for its survival in parliament - a step that could lead to early elections to which most of UPA allies are opposed to.

If India is not able to finalise the IAEA pact by July, the deal will be as good as dead as there will be very little time left to complete the next two steps - a waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and ratification by the US Congress.

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