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US State Department unsure about Burns' role in N deal

india Updated: May 07, 2008 21:29 IST
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Amid uncertainty over the fate of the Indo-US civilan nuclear deal, the State Deprtment has said it was unsure of the role of Nicholas Burns, American pointsman on the issue.

Asked if Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, "is still working on the India deal? Or is that just dead?", State Department spokes Sean McCormack replied "I'm not sure how active Nick (Nicholas Burns) is involved in that process, as it's really a matter for Indian domestic politics.

"...In terms of India, that the issue is with Indian politics and the Indian government working on their end to try to resolve any issues they may have," he added.

Burns stepped down in March and was asked by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to continue as a special envoy on the nuclear deal with India.

Pressed about Burns role, the spokesman said "...I don't know. I'm sure he still talks to people in the building. It's not as though he has fallen off the face of the Earth. I mean, he's a well-known, respected member of the -- former member of the State Department and the Foreign Service."

The United States has last month said that it is "never" going to declare the civilian nuclear agreement with India "dead" because the arrangement is "critically important".

"We are appreciative that the Indians are reconsidering their position, that they continue to have dialogue about it," White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said.

"We are never going to declare it dead because we think it's critically important," Perino said.