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Time running out for nuclear deal, says US official

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns says there is not "an unlimited amount of time".
Reuters | By HT Correspondent, New York
UPDATED ON OCT 23, 2007 10:34 PM IST

Time is running out for a landmark nuclear deal between India and the United States that has been stalled by opposition from four leftist parties in India, a top US State Department official said on Tuesday.

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said it was an internal matter for the Indian government to decide on whether to go ahead with the deal, which would let the country import US nuclear fuel despite having tested nuclear weapons in the past.

"We don't want to interfere in those decisions but we're certainly saying this is a time for reflection," Burns told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

"We don't have an unlimited amount of time," Burns said, noting that the United States was approaching an election year and it was hard to pass legislation at such times.

"We'd like to get this agreement to the US Congress by the end of the year," he said.

The Indian government is in talks with the four leftist parties who oppose the deal because they do not want to come under US influence.

Asked what would happen if, as seems likely, the Indian government could not deliver, Burns said: "I'm not as pessimistic."

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