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More work to be done on N-deal: Burns

Intense negotiations between India and the US continued for the second day.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2006 20:55 IST

US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said both sides were working "very hard" to conclude the agreement but there was "some more work" to be done.

Intense negotiations between India and the US on the nuclear deal continued for the second day on Friday.

"There is a goodwill by both governments, and a commitment by President (George W) Bush to see this (July 18 deal) through towards a conclusion," Burns said after meeting Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma.

"We are working very hard on this agreement on both sides... We have some more work to do," he said before going for another round of talks with Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran.

He expressed hope that progress will be made in the remaining part of his talks with Saran.

Noting that the two countries have been "active" for the last 11 months, the US official said "there have been unique negotiations, very challenging."

On Thursday Burns had said that "some differences" were still remaining between the two sides and that he was not sure whether the agreement would be concluded before Bush's visit here next week.

"Both of us want to complete these negotiations but there are still some remaining differences between us and those differences need to be worked out," he had said.

"We simply don't know whether we will have an agreement before President Bush's visit. We are trying our best," Burns said.

In the last ditch effort to conclude the agreement before Bush's visit, Saran and Burns are meeting for the third round of talks to iron out differences on the deal.

US said "90 per cent" of negotiations have been completed.

The two sides had encountered "difficulties" over the issue of separation, with the US insisting that India put more reactors than it was ready to in the civilian side. These included the home-grown fast breeder reactors (FBRs), a move opposed by New Delhi.

Both countries are now understood to have expressed readiness to show flexibility on their respective positions.

India, on its part, is believed to have agreed to put at least half of 22 nuclear reactors in the civilian side while the US is understood to have accepted to leave FBRs out of the loop for next seven years.

Burns and Saran also gave final touches to Bush's itinerary and the agenda of the talks between the US President and the Prime Minister.

First Published: Feb 24, 2006 18:32 IST