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US Senators set N-deal clock ticking

Influential members of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee warn India over the Indo-US N-deal, reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2008 02:54 IST
Nilova Roy Chaudhury

Top US Senators have given the Indian government a deadline of early June to complete its negotiations on the civil nuclear agreement.

Influential members of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee warned that if the deal was not placed before the US Congress by May-end or early June, and went on to the next administration (most likely Democratic), it would be renegotiated.

Joseph Biden, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “We are running out of time. The clock is running”.

Biden said the civil nuclear deal was not the “whole essence” of the bilateral India-US relationship, but it was the “front and centre” in popular perception — implying there could be a negative fallout on the relationship. He, along with Senators John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday and told him time was running out for the nuclear deal, particularly since this was an election year in the US.

Even if the deal comes before the US Congress by the stated deadline, a lot of the bipartisan support the Hyde Act received in 2006 is likely to be diminished, Kerry said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh explained his government’s dilemma and difficulties, but told the Senators he remained hopeful that the deal would go through.