N-deal talks force Antony to call off Japan visit

June 23rd, 2008 - 8:49 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who has been included in the panel for political discussions on the India-US civilian nuclear deal, Monday deferred his visit to Japan June 28-July 2. “Antony has deferred his visit to Japan due to pressing engagement at home,” an official statement said.

Antony was to lead a high-level delegation comprising Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and senior army and naval officers for ramping defence ties between the two countries.

Antony was roped in for the political discussions with the Left and other parties on the civilian nuclear deal on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s request, Congress sources said.

According to the sources, Manmohan Singh told Congress president Sonia Gandhi that he wanted Antony to join the negotiations rather than entrust the task exclusively to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Since then, the defence minister has been present in almost all meetings Mukherjee has had with leaders of the Left and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) allies over the nuclear deal.

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