No formal talks with IAEA as yet: Pranab to Left

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New Delhi, Oct 5: The stand-off between the Left and the UPA seems to be easing with the government today indicating to the Left parties at the third meeting of the UPA-Left panel that it would not go ahead with India-specific negotiations with the IAEA until the high-powered "political mechanism" completed its task.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Left that "there are no formal talks with the IAEA as yet," indicating that the government was not in hurry to talk to the international organisation to operationalise the 123 agreement.

The next meeting of the 15-member panel, headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, would be held on October 9, five days ahead of schedule.

The seemingly softening stand of the government before the intransigent Left parties is seen by the analysts as a clear indication that the government may not be inclined to force a snap poll on the country on the nuke deal issue.

Emerging from a two-hour-long meeting, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury sought to downplay the forthcoming visit of the IAEA Director General, and said "there is no scope for reading too much on the forthcoming visit of the IAEA Director General to India." "His is a private visit. He is coming for the Hindustan Times Leadership summit in the capital city," he said, adding that "such an important issue like Indo-US deal cannot be discussed in a casual manner." CPI leader D Raja said they have asked the government to allow the panel to complete its job and not to initiate any negotiation beforehand.

Senior Left leader T J Chandrachoodan (RSP) and Devbrat Biswas (Forward Bloc)said that the government had given an assurance that it would put on hold the IAEA negotiations till the UPA-Left panel completed its job.

"If they go ahead with the IAEA negotiations, the talks between the UPA and the government will break down," Prof Chandrachoodan told mediapersons at his party office.

Reading out a statement after the meeting, Mr Mukherjee said the meeting was "cordial.

Mr Mukherjee said the meeting carried forward its discussions on the basis of the inputs provided by the two sides. He parried all questions on what transpired at the meeting, attended by all the 15 members of the panel.

The panel was constituted last month as a "political mechanism" to resolve the differences between the Congress-led UPA and the Left Parties, whose outside support is crucial for the 40-month-old Manmohan Singh government, on the Indo-US Nuclear deal.

He said the next meeting would be held on October 9. The meeting was originally planned for October 14 or 15. But it was preponed in view of the visit of Mr Mukherjee to Russia on October 10 and October 14 being the Id-ul-Fitr.

Communist leaders Prakash Karat, Yechury, A B Bardhan and D Raja, senior Union Ministers P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Lalu Prasad, Sharad Pawar, Saifuddin Soz were among the 15 members who attended today's meeting at the official 5 Talkatora residence of Mr Mukherjee.


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