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Delay yes, but not end of the road for N-deal: PM

The PM tries to downplay the consequences of a delay on operationalising the India-US civil nuclear deal, reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury. PM on N-deal at HT Summit
Hindustan Times | By Nilova Roy Chaudhury, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 31, 2007 10:17 AM IST

Trying to downplay the consequences of a delay on operationalising the India-US civil nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sounded cautiously optimistic on Tuesday evening when he said he did not think the deal had reached the ‘end of the road’.

“I would not like to speculate on what would be the consequences if there is some delay. There is some delay but I don’t think we have reached the end of the road (on the nuclear deal),” Singh said in response to a question.

He was jointly addressing a press conference with Angela Merkel at Hyderabad House after what he called “warm, fruitful and intensive discussions” lasting over an hour with the German Chancellor.

Accepting that “we have run into some problems domestically with the 123 Agreement which we have signed with the United States”, the Prime Minister said: “Which we are trying to resolve”.

“We are trying to evolve a broad based national consensus and are committed to see that the process is carried forward. We are a democracy and in a democracy you have to take along all those who are supporting you,” the Prime Minister said.

The German Chancellor, who will take over the chair of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2008, said the Prime Minister had explained the internal situation regarding the deal and spoke of the need to “make progress on the International Atomic Energy Agency rules” before India and Germany could begin civil nuclear cooperation.

Both Singh and Merkel agreed that the two countries would work to ensure reform of the United Nations system. Both “have an interest in giving our countries a higher profile within the UN system,” Merkel said. “Our two countries have agreed to work together in this area,” Singh said, “if the UN Security Council is to reflect the realities of the 21st century.”

After one-on-one and delegation level talks that lasted more than 90 minutes, India and Germany signed seven agreements and memorandums of understanding and released a comprehensive joint statement on further development of their strategic and global partnership.

“India and Germany share the vision of further strengthening their partnership through new initiatives in the spheres of trade and bilateral investment, energy, science and technology, education, culture, defence,” the joint statement said.

Merkel, who is accompanied by a high-level official, scientific and business delegation on her maiden visit to India, will also be visiting Mumbai.

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