Time running out, no n-deal after September: Ackerman

July 3rd, 2008 - 9:04 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) With political impasse persisting over the nuclear deal, US Congressman Gary Ackerman Thursday asked India to conclude the next steps before September, failing which it will be virtually impossible for the US Congress to endorse the deal this year. “The nuclear deal is not moving as fast as it should. It is moving slowly,” Ackerman, who began his two-day visit to India Thursday, told reporters after meeting Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon here.

Stressing that “time was running out” for the deal, Ackerman, Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, said the US Congress was likely to adjourn in September for the November presidential elections and not come back even for a lame-duck session.

This virtually amounted to saying that if India did not conclude its safeguards pact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) latest by July-end and does not get a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) before September, the deal will fail to clear the last hurdle: winning an endorsement from the US Congress.

Besides Menon, Ackerman met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Special Envoy on the nuclear deal Shyam Saran and discussed the progress of the deal.

He conveyed to Saran the shrinking chances of the 123 agreement being endorsed by Congress if India did not conclude the IAEA pact soon.

Saran, on his part, told Ackerman that the text of the IAEA safeguards pact was ready for signing, but waiting for a political go-ahead, official sources said.

Even as Ackerman pushed for speeding up the process of completing the nuclear deal, senior leaders of the ruling coalition were trying to mobilize requisite support in parliament in case its communist allies withdraw support if the government went ahead with the nuclear deal.

The government is likely to take a decision on going ahead with the deal after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with US President George Bush on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Japan Tuesday.

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