US official to visit India Tuesday

March 2nd, 2008 - 8:22 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) With the Indian government showing signs of going ahead with the stalled nuclear deal despite objections of its communist allies, a senior US State Department official will arrive here Tuesday to review its progress and also discuss the recent Pakistan elections. Richard Boucher, US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, will be here for a two-day trip. He will hold talks with external affairs ministry officials, including Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.

US officials have of late upped the ante on the deal, telling the Manmohan Singh government that time was running out and a “courageous decision” was the need of the hour.

India and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week held their fifth round of negotiations on a safeguards agreement for its declared civilian nuclear installations and have reportedly come near to finalizing the text. But, it can only be inked, once a joint coordination committee of the government and the Left allies give it the green light.

The nuclear deal has two more hurdles to cross to become operational - the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) changing their guidelines to allow nuclear commerce with India and the US Congress approving the bilateral 123 agreement.

Also on Boucher’s agenda will be the situation in post-election Pakistan and the fate of President Pervez Musharraf who is under pressure to quit from the political parties that have emerged victors at the polls.

Envoys of western nations had held talks with leaders of Pakistani political parties to ask them to go slow against Musharraf, a staunch ally of the US.

Besides, the forthcoming constituent assembly elections in Nepal and the security situation in Afghanistan are also expected to come up at the talks.

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