India keen on n-deal, but no deadline can be set: Mukherjee

March 26th, 2008 - 1:07 am ICT by admin  

(Second Lead)
By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 25 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday reiterated India’s desire to implement its stalled civil nuclear deal with the US, but made clear that no deadline can be set to do so. “At this juncture I cannot indicate any time frame by which we can complete the process” of resolving problems with the government’s Left supporters who are opposed to the deal, he said addressing a press conference at the end of his two-day visit to the US.

“It may take some more time,” said Mukherjee, who met President George Bush and had extensive discussions with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice besides sharing “Perspectives on India-US relations” with a group of scholars at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“It’s not a question of sacrificing either the government or the deal,” he said when asked if the United Progressive Alliance was willing to sacrifice the government for the sake of the deal if no consensus was reached before the July deadline set by US lawmakers for ratification of the implementing 123 agreement.

“The events have their own momentum,” said Mukherjee. “If we can evolve a consensus, it’s possible to hasten the process. Let’s see how things move,” he said again insisting that a time frame cannot be fixed.

The minister did say that he had discussed with the US leadership “the way forward on opening civil nuclear cooperation by India with USA and other partners as a critical element of our energy security.”

However, he did not spell out the steps they proposed to take if the Left allies of the government stick to their guns on the nuclear deal.

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