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Talbott questions BJP's opposition to nuke deal

Former US diplomat has said that the Vajpayee-led Govt was ready to settle for much less than what has been offered by the Bush administration.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2008 06:12 PM IST

Questioning the BJP for its opposition to the nuclear deal, former US diplomat Strobe Talbott has said that the Vajpayee-led government was ready to settle for much less than what has been offered by the Bush administration, remarks dubbed as ignorant by the BJP.

"... The Clinton administration negotiated with the BJP-led government on the nuclear issue and that knowing what the goals of my Indian interlocutors at work at that time and seeing how those goals compare with the current Indian government has gotten out of President Bush by way of the civil nuclear deal, I can't understand how is that the BJP could oppose the deal as it obviously does," he told

Walk the Talk

programme on NDTV.

"I think half (of what) the Clinton administration (has) been prepared to offer the BJP-led government that we were dealing with, the deal that President Bush was willing to make with Manmohan Singh and company, the Indian side (then) would have gone for it," said Talbott, known in India for the two-year marathon talks with the then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh.

The famed 14 rounds of talks, that took place in seven countries spanning four continents, were instrumental in putting back on rails the Indo-US ties strained due to India's series of nuclear tests in May 1998.

BJP hit back at Talbott saying that the NDA government had not held any discussions with him on the nuclear issue.

"I am surprised by his statement because during the last two years of NDA government, he was no more the US Deputy Secretary of State. We had no discussions on the lines of the current nuclear deal and the 123 Agreement," senior BJP leader and former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said.

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