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N-deal can still be operationalised: US

Washington asserts that the agreement is "not dead" and is confident that it can "still" be kickstarted by 2008.
PTI | By Sridhar Krishnaswami, Washington
UPDATED ON OCT 17, 2007 12:51 PM IST

Notwithstanding the current uncertainty over the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, Washington has asserted that the agreement is "not dead" and expressed confidence it could "still" be operationalised by the original timeframe of 2008.

The US will continue to work to meet its commitments under the agreement, State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said but left it to the Indian government to "describe their interaction with the IAEA".

There were some "internal discussions" on the deal in India, he noted, adding that "in terms of the timing of those discussions and the outcomes of them, frankly, we don't want to interfere in this internal matter for the Indian government and we'll leave it to them to comment on it".

"We would hope that India would be able to move forward with this agreement and that we would be able to complete it in 2008, which was in general keeping with the original timeframe we had outlined for it," Casey said at a briefing.

"It is an issue that we have talked about with the Indians...In addition to the conversation that the President and the Prime Minister had...Under-Secretary Burns has spoken with his counterparts over the weekend and continue to do so today. We've also had conversations between Ambassador Mulford and some officials in India as well about this. So this is something I expect is going to continue to be the subject of discussion," the official said.

Asked again if the agreement can be completed by 2008, he said, "We believe it's still possible for that to happen. Obviously, a number of things would have to occur for that to be ultimately implemented. But it's a long time between now and the end of 2008 and we'll see where we are".

Earlier, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the nuclear deal is "not dead". "India is a thriving democracy and they have work to do and they may need some additional time on their end to get their part of this deal done," he said.

"The President is willing and is very understanding that the Indians may need more time for this. But no, it's not -- it's not dead," he said.

The US continues to believe that the agreement is "very important" and in the interest of both the countries, as well as in the interest of further cementing and strengthening international nonproliferation regimes, Casey said.

"And I'd also point out, too, that this is part of a much broader shift in the relations between India and the United States. We are really developing a broader strategic partnership with India.

"That's something that's unique and I think is very positive in the development of relations between the world's two largest democracies. I think it is really something that we are going to continue to work on and going to do so regardless of the timetable that gets followed for the implementation of this particular agreement," he added.

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