US says n-deal ‘definitely feasible’ if India crosses own hurdle

April 27th, 2008 - 11:59 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 27 (IANS) The United States considers it “definitely feasible” to get the remaining steps on its civil nuclear deal with India completed if New Delhi approves the agreement stalled by opposition from the ruling coalition’s Leftist supporters. “I think, if the Indian government approves it, I do think that then what remains is to get an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and with the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG),” a senior official told a TV show.

“But I think those things are definitely feasible,” Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte said in an interview with Charlie Rose. “But right now the main stumbling block is the internal Indian political process.

“And they’re going to have to work that out,” the second ranking State Department official said discounting suggestions that the agreement was in trouble because of statements by US lawmakers about deadlines imposed by the US election calendar were putting pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The nuclear deal can be implemented only after final approval from the US Congress after India reaches an agreement on India-specific safeguards with IAEA and the NSG changes its rules for India to let it resume nuclear commerce suspended since its first nuclear test in 1974.

“…the nuclear agreement, at the moment, it’s held up in the Indian political process,” he said acknowledging: “The (Indian) government is committed to it.

“But they’ve got their own coalition politics and political considerations to take into account,” he said noting that “it’s a democratic country.”

Negroponte, who was the first US director of National Intelligence, said: “India is an area where we really have had a significant improvement in the relationship with that country. And I think we look at India much more strategically than we used to.”

Asked how he saw the world, he said he saw “it quite hopefully and quite optimistically for a whole variety of reasons”.

“I think world economies are doing better. The lives of people are generally around the world are improving. I think if you look at the five continents, our position, our standing, our relationships have by and large improved in recent years, certainly reaching out to Asia, good relationship with the People’s Republic of China, our relations with Japan and the Southeast Asian countries are on a strong footing, reaching out to the Indian subcontinent, developing a strategic relationship with India.”

Asked if he saw India as a wedge against China, Negroponte said: “I think, I see India as a large country, more than one billion people, which is democratic, and which the United States cannot afford to ignore.

“I see it growing, interactions between our two countries including a burgeoning Indian-American population here in the United States. So just like China, I see… a huge, growing middle class in that country, a very strong science and technology base.”

Negroponte did not think India will be in a military conflict with China.

“Right. No, I don’t think conflict of that kind.

“…I mean, competition, perhaps, yes. But both of them I think more and more are going to focus on developing their own internal economies, their own internal markets. At the moment, China’s in a very much of an export mode.

“But sooner or later their own people are going to be demanding increases in their standard of living. And so I think that there’s going to be room for everybody,” he said.

Referring to global warming, Negroponte said as President George W. Bush had said earlier this month that a new international climate control regime to replace the Kyoto protocol expiring in 2012 would not work without India or China.

“We’ve got to come up — the international community has got to come up with a new plan. And if we give a pass, again, to China and India, these major rapidly growing economies - if we don’t get them on, whatever measures we take are going to be totally cancelled and overshadowed.”

While US commitment to it should certainly not be dependent on their commitment, “the question is whether we also make them internationally legally binding”, he said.

“And I think to take that second step, I think we would insist that other countries, including these major emitting nations like China and India, do so as well.”

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