M A I N   N E W S

Nuke Deal
PM, Bush to discuss gamut of bilateral issues
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

Frankfurt, September 22
Embarking on a 10-day visit to the US and France, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said he was keenly looking forward to his meeting with President George W. Bush in Washington on September 25 to discuss the entire range of bilateral issues, including the civil nuclear initiative.

In a statement, Singh said in his address to the UN General Assembly on September 26, he would draw the world community’s attention to the need for the reforms of international institutions, including the UN, and to address global challenges such as the food and energy crises, terrorism and the progress in the millennium developments goals.

Singh, accompanied by a high-level delegation, arrived here this evening for an overnight halt on his way to New York on the first leg of his tour.

Officials accompanying the Prime Minister, meanwhile, clarified that the 123 agreement, even if it was approved by the US Congress by the time when Singh met Bush, would not be signed by the two leaders, as was being reported in the media.

Such agreements were not signed at the level of the head of state or the government, they noted, adding that the accord would be inked at the level of foreign ministers, foreign secretaries or the representatives of the atomic energy departments of the two countries.

The sources were hopeful that the 123 agreement would be approved by the US Congress in the next few days but hastened to add that India was not unduly worried about its fate any longer, now that the NSG had given its nod to the country to undertake nuclear commerce.

“We can’t predict if the 123 agreement will be approved... the financial meltdown in the US could see the nuclear deal through. In any case, it does not make any difference to us now whether it is approved on September 25, 26 or later,” they added.

India has, however, made it clear to the US that it would stick to the integrity of the 123 agreement, regardless of what Bush has stated in his presidential determination sent to Congress for approval of the accord.

President Bush said fuel supplies under the agreement were not legally binding but a political commitment, a statement which triggered an uproar in India with the opposition alleging that India had succumbed to the US dictates while negotiating the accord.

The sources said India would not like to interfere with the political process in the US but would not allow Washington to undermine the mutual understanding reached between the two countries in any manner.



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