N-deal will go down to the wire | india | Hindustan Times
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N-deal will go down to the wire

?We?re making progress, but we?re not there yet,? the United States said after three days of intense negotiations on the nuclear deal in New Delhi. Efforts to clinch an agreement on separating India?s civilian and military nuclear facilities will go right down to the wire ? till President George W. Bush arrives on Wednesday.

india Updated: Feb 26, 2006 01:41 IST

“We’re making progress, but we’re not there yet,” the United States said after three days of intense negotiations on the nuclear deal in New Delhi.

Efforts to clinch an agreement on separating India’s civilian and military nuclear facilities will go right down to the wire — till President George W. Bush arrives on Wednesday. US undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns left on Saturday after extensive talks with Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran late into Friday night to try and clinch the deal. Officials of both countries exchanged drafts, but there was no agreement yet. “There are remaining differences but the U.S. hopes they can be closed before the President visits India,” a US Embassy statement said after Burns departed.

In Washington, US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley was candid: “We would like to get it before the trip. If we can, great. If we can’t, we’ll continue to negotiate it after the trip.” He dismissed suggestions that a failure to seal the deal will signal the failure of Bush’s visit, saying “there is a long list of things we are doing together with India, a long list of areas where we hope to have some things to announce during the trip”. Burns said, “There are issues that we have to resolve before we can have a final agreement. That may take some time... It may take a few days.”

The “details” of a separation plan, mostly technical, were at the core of the problem, sources indicated. There has been “some flexibility” shown, and “we have placed what we can on the table,” a source said. An “area of divergence” was whether the fast breeder reactor programme should remain off the civil nuclear list “in perpetuity” or whether the issue should be “revisited” after some years.

Others include the actual number of reactors to be placed on the civil list, to be open to international safeguards; and what “additional facilities,” like research laboratories, could be brought under IAEA safeguards, sources indicated.