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'N-deal to commence when India is ready'

world Updated: Sep 29, 2007 11:14 IST
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In the face of Left opposition, the Bush administration has refused to set a time-line for moving the Indo-US nuclear deal forward, saying it will start work towards operationalising the agreement when New Delhi is ready.

"We will deal with it as it comes. We'll deal with it in terms of the opportunities that are there when India is ready to move forward," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard Boucher said when asked if there was any time-line for moving the deal forward.

Cautiously speaking at a briefing in New York on Thursday, Boucher said the issue did come up during discussions between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in New York on Wednesday.

"We did talk about the steps down the road, but we'll leave it to the Indians to work their way through the current political discussion in Delhi," the senior official said.

After the meeting held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, there was no briefing by either side and a brief press release issued by the Indian mission did not mention specific subjects discussed.

The Manmohan Singh government, Boucher said, is answering questions that have been raised in the Indian political system and "we understand that."

The US itself had a "fair amount" of debate but in the end, the deal could get a strong majority in its favour in the Congress, he said.

"We frankly at this juncture leave it to the Indians to work their way through the political issues, to answer questions that have been raised by their parliamentarians," he added.

"We talked about how we can work together on the way forward as we go -- as they (India) go to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and then we go to the IAEA board, and then we all both go to the Nuclear Suppliers Group," Boucher said.

Replying a question, Boucher said Mukherjee and Rice did not discuss Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the United States.

"We kind of agreed that we'll -- I mean, we agreed some time back -- we'd get in touch through diplomatic channels," he added.

Asked what the US expects India to do on the Myanmar issue, Boucher said, "I think I'd leave it to the Indians to decide on their policy."

"Certainly, we're encouraging countries, all countries, to speak out. We're encouraging countries to speak in favour of non-violence. It's very sad that at least nine people were killed, I think, yesterday," he said.