India's key negotiator on the civil nuclear deal with the United States, Shyam Saran, has begun a dialogue in Washington on how to take it forward following the passage of the enabling US law.
Saran, Prime Minister's special envoy on the deal, had a round of discussions here Thursday with his American counterpart, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nick Burns. He is set to meet him again Friday besides calling on President George Bush's National Security Advisor Steve Hadley.
Saran, who is here to discuss the timetable of talks over the 123 Agreement, so named after the relevant section of the US Atomic Energy Act 1954 to implement the civil nuclear deal, is also expected to convey India's continued concerns over certain provisions of the US law to his interlocutors.
Saran-Burns talk focus on conceptual issues that have an impact and bearing on the negotiations on the agreement as also drafts of the 123 agreement proposed by either side.
Soon after signing 'Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006' into law last December, Bush had sought to allay India's concerns over certain "extraneous and prescriptive" provisions by declaring that he was not bound to follow them at all.
"My approval of the Act does not constitute my adoption of the statements of policy as US foreign policy," he declared in a presidential statement assuring that three sections - 103, 104 and 109 - relating to India's Iran policy, NSG transfer guidelines and a joint scientific cooperative nuclear non-proliferation programme would at best be treated as "advisory".
However, these continue to raise hackles in New Delhi where there is little awareness about what are called 'binding' and 'non-binding' provisions of a law enacted by the US Congress as parliament is considered supreme in India.
Once finalised the implementing 123 agreement has to again go before the US Congress, now controlled by Democrats, for a fast track up and down vote, which means that it can either approve it or reject it, but without any amendments.