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Sen optimistic on nuke deal

Indian envoy to US has said India will not undermine its strategic N-programme in any manner, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2006 17:52 IST

India will not undermine its strategic nuclear programme in any manner while going all out to resolve differences with the US over separation of civilian and military facilities, Indian ambassador Ronen Sen said in Washington on Tuesday.

Sen, featured as the National Press Club’s ‘Newsmaker’, exuded optimism about the renewed bid to be made by the two countries this week to clinch an agreement on the nuke deal ahead of President George W Bush's arrival in India next week. He characterised Bush’s visit as one full of promise to consolidate what has already been achieved on Indo-US relations. “A very warm welcome awaits President Bush,” he said, adding that India recognises the impetus he has given to take bilateral ties to “new strategic heights”.

Sen confirmed that US undersecretary of state for political affairs Nicholas Burns would hold crucial talks with foreign secretary Shyam Saran in New Delhi on Thursday and Friday, but declined to go into the hurdles or even formula being considered to resolve the issue. Answering questions from the international media, Sen made it clear that India would continue with its strategic nuclear programme “irrespective of this agreement with the US”.

Disagreeing with the US’s non-proliferation lobby that the nuke deal would help India significantly increase its stockpile of nuclear weapons, he said India has had its strategic programme for long and “does not require any outside assistance”.

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 02:01 IST