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Not end of N-road: PM
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 30
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tonight admitted that there was some delay in taking next steps to operationalise the Indo-US nuclear deal but added an optimistic dimension when he said: “We have not reached the end of the road.”

The Prime Minister also extended an olive branch to his Left allies when he said: “We need to evolve a broad-based consensus on the issue. We are making efforts in that direction.”

Manmohan Singh’s remarks came in the presence of visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint press conference after their one-to-one and delegation-level talks at Hyderabad House where the two sides decided to upgrade their seven-year-old “strategic” ties to a “strategic and global partnership”.

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor said they had “fruitful discussions” on the Indo-US nuclear deal, an unfolding event which Berlin is closely monitoring for business opportunities, reflected by the fact that Merkel’s official delegation comprises over 160 persons.

Manmohan Singh described the 123 agreement as “an honourable deal, good for India, good for the world, good for the cause of non-proliferation”. He admitted to problems with the Left parties and said: “We have run into problems which the government is trying to resolve.”

The Prime Minister repeatedly laid stress on thrashing out a “broad-based consensus” on the issue.

“We are a democracy and we have to take all views into account. I would not like to speculate about the results…There is some delay (in operationalisation of the deal) but we have not reached the end of the road.”

On her part, the German Chancellor stressed that India had to fulfil its part of the responsibilities in operationalising the nuclear deal and made it clear that until India signed an additional safeguards agreement with the IAEA, the international community will not be able to do much for New Delhi.

“Once India does the IAEA bit, Germany and India can do a lot together.”

The significance of talks between Merkel and Manmohan Singh can be gauged from the fact that the two leaders had one-to-one talks for almost one and a half hours. Myanmar, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and neighbours like China and Pakistan came under a laser beam focus during today’s talks.

India and Germany decided to boost their already healthy bilateral trade of 12 billion Euros at present to 20 billion Euros by 2012. Germany is Europe’s number one economic power and a major trade partner of India. Germany is Europe’s biggest and world’s fourth ranking trade partner with India.

Germany is currently the Chairman of G-8 and is going to take over the presidency of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the 45-nation apex international body whose nod is mandatory for the operationalisation of the nuclear deal. Significantly, the current visit by Merkel is stand-alone as she has come here straight from Berlin and goes back home at the end of the four-day state visit.

The two sides signed several bilateral agreements in the presence of the two leaders and released a five-page joint statement after the talks. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor reaffirmed their commitment to the strategic partnership between India and Germany. The special partnership has already led to growing cooperation in global affairs and substantial expansion in the bilateral engagement in multiple fields.

The two leaders noted that the establishment of the Indo-German Science and Technology Centre and the launch of the Science Express by them this morning reflected their significant contribution in the field of science and technology cooperation.

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