Pelosi to discuss nuclear deal with PM
Nancy Pelosi, the US House of Representatives speaker, will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday and discuss the India-US nuclear deal amid concerns over its fate under a Democratic administration.
An influential Democrat on Capitol Hill and a firm advocate of stronger ties with India, Pelosi will also meet External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and discuss with him a range of bilateral and global issues, including the situation in Tibet, official sources said.
She will go Friday to Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, to meet the Dalai Lama, who has been blamed by Beijing for the violence in Tibet that has claimed at least 16 lives. The Tibetan leader has denied the charge.
Pelosi, who arrives in the Capital on Wednesday night on a five-day visit, was a prime mover in the decision last year to honour the Dalai Lama with the Congressional Gold Medal, a top US civilian honour.
China, which is opposed to Pelosi's proposed meeting with the Dalai Lama, will be closely watching her trip to Dharamsala.
The focus of her trip will, however, be on the nuclear deal. Leading Democrats like Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former presidential candidate John Kerry have said that the deal will be re-negotiated under a Democrat administration if it does not go through this year.
Meetings with Pelosi, a Democrat with strong views on nuclear non-proliferation, is seen here as important as it will give Indian leaders an insight into the Democratic Party's thinking on the nuclear deal. Pelosi will be coming here with a team of Democrats.
New Delhi has stepped up networking with influential Democrats in a bid to ensure that if the deal is not concluded this year, it still can be done next year in its present form if the Democratic Party wins the presidential polls.
Earlier this month, former US president Bill Clinton, spouse of Hillary Clinton, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for the presidential bid, said that the Democrats backed the deal. But he added that the deal could have been stronger on the non-proliferation side.
Despite repeated reminders by the US about a July deadline for ratifying the nuclear deal, the Indian government has yet to bring on board its Communist allies who are virulently opposed to it.