N-deal moving on expeditious time table: US

August 4th, 2008 - 12:34 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, Aug 3 (IANS) The nuclear deal with India is “moving on an expeditious time table”, a top US official said here Sunday and expressed the hope that it would be placed before the US Congress in early September for its approval. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher, who was here to attend the 15th SAARC summit as an observer, said the US was “pleased to see the consensus reached” by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors on approving the India-specific safeguards agreement.

“This is a major step and the next step is to go forward to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and talk to all member countries. If we can do that expeditiously we would hope to be able to deliver the package to our Congress in September,” Boucher said.

He hoped no country would oppose the nuclear deal in the NSG, but conceded “it is going to be process now and then, working with countries who have questioned, making sure that their questions get answers”.

In an obvious reference to political crisis in India that led to the trust vote victory of the Congress-led coalition government, he said the US “understands democracy and have great patience for democracy”.

“Now that India had worked its way through with its political issues we are in a much better position and we are going to go forward full speed with them,” Boucher said, adding that “an intense effort” was underway together with India to finalise the deal at the earliest.

The remarks by the US envoy came after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described as “an important day for India” the IAEA Board of Governors’ decision.

Manmohan Singh, who was here to attend the two-day summit, said in a statement Friday that he was “deeply appreciative of the historic significance of the milestone in our cooperation with the IAEA and the international community in peaceful uses of atomic energy”.

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