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We are still seeking N-consensus: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says, "the process of evolving a political consensus back home is on".
Hindustan Times | By Pankaj Vohra, Saroj Nagi, Sutirtho Patranobis, Pretoria/delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 18, 2007 11:04 AM IST

Here is the latest on the India-US civilian nuclear deal: it is not dead, and it has not been put on hold. But for a final — or near final — word on it, wait for the fifth round of the UPA-Left meeting on October 22.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters in South Africa that “the process of evolving a meaningful consensus (on the deal) is still on”. He was responding to a question on how he would reconcile discussions on nuclear cooperation with political differences in India. Brazil’s President Luiz Lula Da Silva and South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki were also present at the news conference at the close of the IBSA Summit.

Singh’s comment comes five days after he told the HT Leadership Summit that though he would be disappointed if the deal did not come through, his was “not a one-issue government”.

The Left parties were guarded in their reaction to the PM’s latest statement.

“The Left has never said that the issue has been settled or resolved. We were very cautious…We have to wait till October 22 to find out what exactly the government has decided. Only after that we will decide our stand,” CPI’s AB Bardhan said.

The CPM did not comment. “We will wait till the October 22 meeting,” politburo member Brinda Karat said.

Singh’s words in South Africa appeared to have been anticipated by the Congress in India a few hours earlier. A party spokesman said in New Delhi that the deal had not been put on hold, and dismissed speculation that the PM was contemplating resigning on the issue.

“The deal has not been put in the cold storage. I am denying that the deal has been put on hold. It is very much in the offing,” Union minister Dr Shakeel Ahmed said.

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