US defence secretary may meet Advani on n-deal

February 26th, 2008 - 12:45 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) US Defence Secretary Robert Gates is likely to meet Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani to push forward the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal during his visit to India beginning Tuesday, a senior government official said. Gates is expected to meet Advani, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s prime ministerial candidate, on Wednesday ostensibly to discuss the nuclear deal. The BJP has opposed the deal in its present form. The meeting will be a one on one affair, the official confirmed.

US delegates visiting India in the recent past have pressed for the deal saying further delay could spoil the chances of it going through.

India Monday began negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on an India-specific safeguards agreement on the deal.

Gates will be in India for one and a half days during which he will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A.K. Antony.

Another important meeting scheduled for Gates is with National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, which is being looked forward to by both sides as it could pave the way for clearing some bottlenecks and strengthen relations between the two countries.

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