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Can’t mend or end talks now: Pranab

The CPI(M) has renewed its threat of pulling down the government if it “falters” on foreign policy and “succumbs” to US pressure.
By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 20, 2008 02:22 AM IST

Even as External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has maintained that negotiations on the civil nuclear deal with the United States were at a stage when the Indian government could “neither mend nor end the talks”, the CPI(M) has renewed its threat of pulling down the government if it “falters” on foreign policy and “succumbs” to US pressure.

Participating in a discussion on a statement by the minister on foreign policy issues, CPI(M) member Sitaram Yechury said the Left would not allow the government to succumb to US pressure and also took exception to the Indo-US military exercises being conducted in the region.

“It is a clear indication that we are part of a set-up in the leadership of US in the region”, he said, while also disagreeing with Mukherjee’s statement that the Hyde Act had nothing to do with India.

Mukherjee sought to play down the threat by stating that the decision to conduct military exercises with the US did not mean that India was giving up its sovereign rights or being subjected to pressures.

He emphasized that the US was not the only country with which India was having joint military exercises.

The external affairs minister was responding to a discussion in the upper house on his earlier statement of March 3, which had pertained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s China visit of January and had touched upon India’s relations with other neighbors including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Responding to issues earlier raised by Congress member Rashid Alvi, the External Affairs Minister said that there was
no dilution on India’s stand on the Palestinian question, while pointing out that India had extended support to the UN Security Council resolution, which calls upon Israel to vacate the occupied territories.

There is continuity about India’s foreign policy; Mukherjee said the country needed to respond to the new formations and combinations that emerged from time to time.

Earlier, leader of the Opposition, Jaswant Singh called upon the External Affairs Minister to end the “suspense and uncertainty” over the nuclear deal “that had dragged on for too long”. Charging the UPA government with treating the Indo-US nuclear deal as its "private affair", he said the government should call the bluff of the Left and be prepared to work as minority government even if they (Left) pull the plug.

"What would happen at the most. You will continue as a minority government. I can assure you," he said.

He said it was time the government moved from an "invisible foreign policy" to an effective one with regard to India's neighborhood.

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