Next US president may not push n-deal: Blackwill

April 20th, 2008 - 11:32 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) Former US ambassador to India Robert Blackwill, who has also been a chief lobbyist for New Delhi in Washington, Sunday said the next American president might not have as much stake in the nuclear deal as the current administration does. “If I may be characteristically blunt, the next American president will not have the same sunk costs in the US-India civil nuclear agreement that this president (George W. Bush) and the top of the administration has,” Blackwill said at the first International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)-Citi India Global Forum here.

He said that while US will not pay any price if the deal does not go through, “India will pay a substantial price in its future energy policy, and its lack of civil nuclear assistance from the outside world”.

On the hurdles that the deal has encountered in Indian domestic politics, Blackwill said: “I would say, but perhaps you would not agree, that coming from a democracy myself that furiously debates such agreements, and in which its own domestic politics are deeply engaged, I do not criticise India and its great democracy for struggling with the domestic political implications of that agreement.”

The Left parties that support the Manmohan Singh government have been strongly opposed to the deal.

The former envoy added that if the nuclear deal was not reached this year, “it would not produce a large bump in the US-India bilateral relationship”.

Blackwill also hoped that the next US president would not return to the pre-2001 pattern of “lecturing” India on nuclear weapons. “They (Indians) did not have much tolerance before, and they have none now. That would be a substantial irritant in the relationship if it were to occur.”

Further, he said, “the same thing is true of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which conceivably could be a high priority for the next American president, depending on how our election turns out.”

“Again, I hope very much that the administration to come does not wear out its welcome in New Delhi with urgings regarding the CTBT,” said Blackwill.

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