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US reaffirms it’ll seal deal soon

US Ambassador David Mulford reaffirms his government’s commitment to working with India to rapidly complete the remaining steps to conclude the civil nuclear deal.

delhi Updated: Aug 26, 2008 00:45 IST
HT Correspondent

US Ambassador David Mulford has reaffirmed his government’s commitment to working with India to rapidly complete the remaining steps to conclude the civil nuclear deal.

“The US and India stand shoulder-to-shoulder in their desire for a clean exception and we will continue to work with our Indian partners to persuade the Nuclear Suppliers Group countries that such an exemption is in the international community’s best interest,” said Mulford.

“Ahead of the scheduled NSG plenary on September 4, the US and India will continue the vigorous joint advocacy for the initiative at the highest levels of NSG governments,” the ambassador added.

Interestingly, Mulford used the word “clean” and not unconditional for the waiver, something India has been insisting upon. Clearly, there are gaps in perception between India and the US as they try to take the deal through the last mile.

His comments came on a day when US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher met officials in the External Affairs ministry. They were to discuss the situation after last week’s NSG meeting in Vienna failed to produce a consensus on allowing India to source nuclear supplies from abroad.

Boucher refused to answer questions from the media after his meetings in the ministry. But last week in Mumbai, he had said there would have to be changes in the draft that came up for discussion in Vienna.

In the July 2005 Indo-US agreement, Washington was to adjust US laws and policies and “work with friends and allies to adjust international regimes to enable full civil nuclear energy cooperation and trade with India”. The NSG, clearly, is a critical part of the “international regimes” that govern civil nuclear cooperation.

India, on its part, has completed its commitments under the deal, including the conclusion of a fresh safeguards pact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Several small countries, many of them opposed to nuclear energy, have created problems for India’s waiver at the NSG.