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Another round of nuclear talks next month

India and the US will hold another round of talks in July to sort out differences that have been nagging the negotiations for months.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2007 15:05 IST

Keen to conclude the civil nuclear deal by the year-end, India and the US will hold another round of high level talks next month to sort out differences that have been nagging the negotiations for months.

National Security Adviser (NSA) MK Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon are expected to visit Washington on July 16 for talks with US NSA Stephen Hadley and Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns on 123 agreement, which will operationalise the civil nuclear deal.

The high-level meeting will come close on the heels of technical-level discussions between the two sides earlier this week in Washington where effort was made at formulating a mutually-acceptable language for the agreement.

India's High Commissioner to Singapore S Jai Shankar, one of the key negotiators from the Indian side, was in Washington for three days during which he held discussions with Richard Stradford, Director in the State Department's Nuclear Division, and some other officials, sources said.

The involvement of National Security Advisers from the two sides is intended to give a push at a higher level to the negotiations that have got stuck due to differences on issues like reprocessing.

India has been insisting on getting the reprocessing right but the US is reluctant, leading to a logjam.

The talks between NSAs will be followed by discussions at a higher level when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits India towards the end of next month or early August.

The two sides are aiming at concluding the agreement by the end of the year and are expressing confidence that it can be done.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday that "one or two issues" remained to be resolved and hoped the deal would come through soon.

Projecting the civil nuclear deal as "the first fundamental pillar" of Indo-US relations, Rice on Wednesday expressed confidence that the "win-win" agreement will be finalised by the year-end.

She pointed out that negotiations on the deal were difficult but hoped the bipartisan support for it will help the 123 agreement, operational pact of the deal, go through the Congress.

"This is a huge step forward. We're not quite there yet. But with will and determination and more hard work to do, I am certain that we will reach final agreement and be in a position to complete this deal by the end of the year," Rice said.