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Govt tries to cool Left on nuclear deal

The Govt tries to mollify the Left on the 123 agreement, saying it is committed to addressing all the grey areas.
By HT Correspondent | PTI, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 16, 2007 10:59 PM IST

Ahead of the crucial CPI(M) Politburo meeting, government on Thursday spared no efforts to try and mollify the Left parties on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal admitting that their concerns are "serious and genuine" and it was committed to addressing all the "grey areas".

The government moves came on a day when Parliament was rocked by a fresh US statement linking the deal with nuclear tests and the government rejected suggestions that it was facing a crisis.

Despite the Congress-led coalition asserting again that India had not lost the "sovereign" right to conduct a nuclear test, Left parties staged a walkout in Parliament, second in a week, the first being during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's suo motu statement on the deal.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee made a statement in Lok Sabha to drive home the point that the deal with the US does not put any restraint on India and any move to undertake a future nuclear test would be New Delhi's "sovereign decision".

The Opposition BJP utilised the opportunity to give a notice of breach of privilege against the Prime Minister in the backdrop of the latest statement from the US that the deal can be terminated if India conducts an atomic test.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister PR Dasmunsi noted that the concerns expressed by the Left are "serious and genuine" and the "government was committed to address all grey areas during the debate," whose date has so far not been finalised.

Dasmunsi sidestepped questions on renegotiating the deal, maintaining that anything could be said only after the debate.

"It is their right to express their views, seek clarifications from Prime Minister and government, air their satisfaction or dissatisfaction and announce their decision," he told reporters here adding that "we are not worried and there is no threat."

He, however, insisted that the government will last its full term whatever might be the pulls and pressures. "Under no circumstances Advani will rule the country," he remarked.

Before making the statement, Mukherjee also had a meeting with CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury to clear the air on the US State Department statement and told him that India reserves the sovereign right to conduct nuclear tests.

The External Affairs Minister also insisted that the Hyde Act having extraneous and prescriptive provisions were "not binding on India."

"Whatever is stated in the Hyde Act is not binding on us. How they (US) deal with it is their problem," he added.

He asserted that the "only restraint is our voluntary unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, declared by the previous (NDA) government and being continued by the successor government."

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