M A I N   N E W S

Bush reassures PM on N-deal
Tribune News Service

St. Petersburg, July 17
President of the US George W. Bush today assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that there would be no shifting of goal posts with regard to the Indo-US nuclear pact and that they would ensure that New Delhi would not be required to meet any expectations beyond those already spelt out in their joint agreement of July 18, 2005.

Mr Bush was responding to the concerns expressed by the Prime Minister in their 40-minute bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G8 outreach session about certain aspects of the legislation at present pending passage in US Congress allowing civilian nuclear cooperation with India.

India’s concerns, already conveyed to the US administration, emanate from the two different legislations passed by the House and senate house committees, which provide for an annual certification by the US President on India’s compliance with its commitments, dilution of an assured fuel supply in return for putting the designated civilian faculties under perpetual safeguards and the denial of fuel reprocessing facilities to India.

With the Opposition and UPA allies raising strong objections to the nuclear deal, Dr Manmohan Singh went out of his way to underline that it was very important that the final Bill should be in consonance with the goal of the joint agreement providing full civilian nuclear cooperation between the two countries and the separation plan. In fact, monsoon session of Parliament is only a week away and the Opposition as well as the Left parties have already made it known that that they will pin down the UPA government on the Indo-US nuclear pact .

Briefing mediapersons after the meeting, foreign secretary Shyam Saran said the Prime Minister pointed out that there were certain elements in the Bill, which went beyond the reciprocal scope of cooperation. Elaborating on these contentious issues, he said, the limitation on enrichment technology was violative of the joint agreement. Similarly, he said, undue verification procedures introduced in the legislation were beyond the original pact.

On his part, President Bush assured the Prime Minister that the US was well aware of India’s concerns and the their administration had no intention to go beyond the July 18 agreement, adding that these would be corrected when the final Bill was drawn up.

It had already been explained to India that in the US system there was provision for the inclusion of what were termed as “non-binding” clauses, which essentially reflected the individual concerns of lawmakers.

“Our concerns have been understood and, in any case, the Bill is not finalised. We will have to wait and see,” Mr Saran added.

While there is some concern over the changed language of the pending US legislation, India was nevertheless, encouraged by the G8 statement on non-proliferation, which endorsed virtually India’s nuclear status. It said the G8 countries took note of the commitments India had made and said it would encourage India to take further steps towards integration into the mainstream of strengthening the non-proliferation regime, so as to facilitate a more forthcoming approach towards nuclear proliferation to address its energy requirements.

The Prime Minister also used his visit here to lobby for the acceptance of the Indo-US nuclear deal by the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.





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