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Govt not to proceed without Left on N-deal: Pranab

The government says it will not "like to" proceed with the Indo-US nuclear deal if the Left withdraws support.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2008 11:19 IST

Amid hopes of conclusion of talks with IAEA next week, government has said it will not "like to" proceed with the Indo-US nuclear deal if the Left withdraws support but noted that pullout of the agreement will have "some adverse impact" on India's standing in the world.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee rejected suggestions that the UPA government's capacity to operationalise the deal has weakened after the Congress' debacle in Gujarat and Himachal assembly elections.

He made it clear that the Government will not have the capacity to proceed with the deal if it plunges into a minority. "We would not like to proceed with the deal if the Left parties withdraw support from the Government," he told Karan Thapar's India Tonight programme on CNBC.

He, however, emphasised that if India pulls out of the deal, it will have "some adverse impact" on the country's standing at the international level.

Mukherjee dubbed as "absolutely hypothetical" when asked what the government would do if a satisfactory bargain was achieved at the IAEA talks but Left still maintained its opposition.

"... Before we went to the IAEA, their (Left) position was that don't proceed further (on the deal). From that position we have improved something," he said.

Asked whether it meant that the Government would be able to "push" the Left, he replied, "It is not a question of pushing. It is a question of accepting the ground reality as and when it unfolds. Let us wait and see."

India hopes to conclude the negotiations on safeguards agreement with IAEA during the talks next week after which the UPA-Left committee will discuss the draft. "Let us have the agreed text (of safeguards agreement) first. Let us discuss with the Left leaders," Mukherjee said.

He sought to downplay aggressive statements issued by Left leaders like Prakash Karat and Debabrata Biswas every now and then. "We are aware of the various positions stated by the Left parties from time to time and despite that we are talking with each other."

The External Affairs Minister also contested Left suggestion that the sense of the House during the debate was against the Government proceeding with the controversial deal, saying the opinion of Parliament was not sought at all.

Mukherjee admitted that majority of the members spoke against the deal, but maintained that "it was not the opinion of the Parliament which was sought in the debate" and the Government did not seek the sense of the House.

The veteran Congress leader rejected suggestions that the UPA Government's capacity to operationalise the deal has weakened after the Himachal and Gujarat election outcome, saying the defeat does not matter in this case as it was not a referendum on the deal.

On the talks with IAEA, Mukherjee said India wants to see its concerns on assured fuel supply, right to build a strategic reserve and freedom to pursue an independent strategic programme addressed.

He also sought not to attach much importance to the argument that the deal would be in jeopardy if Democrats come to power in the US and rejected the suggestion that pullout of the deal will harm India's quest for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.