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123 agreement must happen now: Mulford

india Updated: Sep 26, 2007 21:24 IST

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A deafening silence on the civil nuclear deal during the last four days of India@60 celebrations was broken by the US, which said the 123 agreement must be completed in the life of the present Congress.

"We have changed laws in the US (when we) negotiated the 123 agreement. Both sides have agreed (to it) and it will move ahead," US Ambassador to India David Mulford said on Tuesday, while underlining the importance of the deal to happen before the term of the Congress ends.

The deal, which aims to give India access to American nuclear fuel and equipment to help meet its soaring energy needs even though it has tested nuclear weapons and is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, requires to be approved by the US Congress, the IAEA and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

"Final steps have to be taken with IAEA and NSG. A final vote by the US Congress is also required... Time is of the essence," Mulford said, addressing 'India@60: A New Age for Business" conference organized by the CII, USIBC and the Asia Society here.

The civil nuclear initiative with India will help the sub-continent nation in meeting its energy needs, he said, while describing as comprehensive the "456" relations or simply other areas of Indo-US relations.

Indian leaders, including External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, have been silent on the deal during the last four days of celebrations of India's 60th year of independence organized here by the CII and the Ministry of Tourism, barring a passing mention about the pact by India's Ambassador to the US Ronen Sen.

Sen, while addressing the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas New York 2007, mentioned that the Indo-US nuclear deal was an example of the strengthening ties between the two nations.

The Left parties, which offer crucial support to the UPA government in New Delhi, have been resisting the implementation of the agreement entered into in July 2005 saying it would compromise the country's sovereignty.

Earlier, Mulford described India as "nothing short of a modern miracle" for its attributes that include a large population, parliamentary democracy, rule of law, religious tolerance, great degree of human freedom, large private sector economy and its peaceful co-existence with the rest of the world.

He said Indo-US relations were at an all-time high and that Washington wanted to see India become a world power. He said the nuclear deal attempts to address one area of restriction to India's growth being its energy requirement.