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N-deal: Left, UPA buy time, not peace

The next meeting of the UPA-Left panel will be held on October 22, report Sutirtho Patranobis and Saroj Nagi.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2007 03:27 IST

The UPA and the Left yet again failed to bridge their differences on the India-US civil nuclear deal. Instead, they bought time and prolonged the uncertainty.

At the end of the fourth round of UPA-Left talks on Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “The members of the committee shared in detail their perceptions on various aspects of the cooperation agreement between India and the US. Discussions were also initiated on the implications of the nuclear agreement on foreign policy and security cooperation.”

The next meeting of the UPA-Left panel will be held on October 22, and not on October 15 as planned earlier. The CPM politburo session slated for October 18 could also be rescheduled.

“It is a festival season. Why are you making the government fall?” Forward Bloc’s Debabrata Biswas asked reporters.
Even as the two sides stuck to their guns, almost everyone at the meeting said they did not want early polls. The meeting began with Mukherjee renewing his appeal to the Left to let the government talk about the India-specific safeguards. He stressed the need to maintain the time-line for operationalising the deal. For starters, the government has to complete the formalities for it ahead of the IAEA board of governors’ meeting in November, he said. “But the Left said that though the process of talks is fine, they are fundamentally opposed to the 123 Agreement,” said a member of the panel.

CPM’s Karat and Yechury had conveyed their opposition to the 123 pact when they met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday. They said the Left's problem is not with the IAEA but the pact and the Hyde Act. Karat later briefed the four Left parties about his meeting with Sonia.

The Left spelt out its stand of “no formal talks with the IAEA” at the morning meeting. But they said they have no objection to PM Manmohan Singh’s meeting visiting IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei.

Congress leaders rejected the Left’s claim that the government has agreed not to talk to the IAEA, claiming that no commitment was given not to talk to the IAEA. They said that talks with the IAEA would be carried out on the precondition that the decisions reached would have the consent of the allies. They added that the government is determined to pursue the deal and claimed that the Left has, during the four rounds of talks, agreed that the 123 agreement will have precedence over the US’s Hyde Act but only to the extent when they come into conflict with each other.

According to Yechury: “The 123 Agreement overrides the Hyde Act but only till the point it is terminated. There are 11 reasons in the Act why the agreement could be terminated. If the Agreement is terminated, we are left with empty reactors and no fuel supply.”

First Published: Oct 09, 2007 13:29 IST