External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee explained the status of the India-US civilian nuclear deal to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday.
The meeting between the two came days after speculation in sections of the press that the Russian side had "snubbed" Mukherjee when Lavrov could not meet him in Moscow on October 12. Jaimini Bhagwati, the additional secretary in the External Affairs Ministry, told journalists that Lavrov wanted to know what was happening on the nuclear deal front during his meeting with Mukherjee.
"He (Lavrov) did ask where it (the nuclear deal) is. You all know where we are (on the deal)," Bhagawati said. "He (Mukherjee) clarified what the situation is." The "go slow" on the nuclear deal could have a direct bearing on Russia's intentions to sign an agreement on the sale of more nuclear reactors to India, which could have been possible during a Manmohan Singh-Vladimir Putin summit in Moscow in the second week of November.
Already, India and Russia have signed a "memorandum of intent" on expanding civilian nuclear cooperation. But the Russians have been clear that without a "yes" from the Nuclear Suppliers Group on India's request to lift all restrictions, Moscow would not go ahead with the sale of nuclear reactors and technology to New Delhi.