Indian delay makes n-deal more difficult by the day: US

June 21st, 2008 - 9:46 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 21 (IANS) The United States has told India it’s working closely with its lawmakers to get their stalled civil nuclear deal approved by Congress, but every single day’s delay by New Delhi makes it much more difficult. “Well, we are talking to them about it in as much as they are briefing us on their efforts,” State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday when asked about Indian coalition government’s last-ditch bid to persuade its leftist supporters to give up their opposition to the deal.

“I think it’s more - they’re coming to us to say this is what we’re trying to do to resolve internal political differences that are holding up the deal moving forward,” he said referring to the leftist threat to pull the plug on the Manmohan Singh government should it go ahead without their consent.

But “every single day that the Indian government delays and has delayed is a day that makes it much more difficult to get this done,” McCormack said.

It’s a separate branch of government (the US legislature) as well as some other international agencies that are going to deal with this issue, the official said referring to the three remaining hurdles in the way of the nuclear deal.

“All of that said, you know, we’ll of course continue to work very closely with Senator Joseph Biden, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as others on that Committee, should the Indian government get to a different place,” McCormack said.

Asked to comment on his choice of words - ‘the Indian government delays and has delayed’ - the spokesman said: “It’s a statement of fact.”

India and the US finalised the implementing 123 agreement last July, but New Delhi needs to sign a safeguards agreement for its civilian reactors with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and get the approval of 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Only then the nuclear deal comes up before the US Congress for a final approval in an up or down vote. India has already finalised the agreement with the IAEA, but has not signed it yet due leftist parties’ opposition.

Several US officials as also key lawmakers including Biden, who is expected to play a key role in pushing the deal through Congress, have said it would be difficult to get the process completed in an election year unless the 123 agreement comes up before it before end June.

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