Nuke deal: Pranab Mukherjee makes reconcilatory efforts

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New Delhi, Oct 8 (UNI) Congress troubleshooter and government chief negotiator on the Indo-US nuclear deal Pranab Mukherjee was tonight making reconcilatory efforts with the Left leaders ahead of the meeting of the UPA-Left political panel tomorrow.

A day after Congress chief and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi made stinging remarks against the Left parties on the nuclear deal, Mr Mukherjee, the External Affairs Minister met CPI(M)top leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechuri and was in touch with other Left leaders on the issue.

He had reportedly contacted CPI(M) veteran and former West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu and CPI General Secretary AB Bardhan to create an atmosphere where the dialogue on the nuclear deal would continue not only tomorrow but also on October 15, the fifth meeting of the panel.

It is learnt that Mr Mukherjee has been put on a reconcilatory mission by his party leadership to assuage the hurt feeling of the leaders of the Left parties.

The Left parties earlier reacted sharply to Ms Gandhi's criticism of the opponents of the Indo-US nuclear deal, saying those who advocate the pact should know that India was capable of developing nuclear energy primarily on a self-reliant basis.

''The Left parties categorically reiterate that the nuclear deal with the US is against the interests of India,'' top leaders of the four Left parties said in a joint statement here.

The brief statement was signed by CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan, RSP Secretary Abani Roy and All India Forward Bloc General Secretary Debabrata Biswas.

It came a day after Ms Gandhi, addressing a rally in Jhajjar District of Haryana, made a veiled attack on the Left parties, describing the opponents of the agreement as ''enemies of progress and development''.

''Those who advocate the deal should know that India is capable of developing nuclear energy primarily on a self-reliant basis. We need not surrender our vital interests to America on this plea,'' the statement said.

This will be the fourth meeting of the high-powered panel which has so far failed to make any headway in view of the sharp differences between the UPA and the Left parties over the deal.

The meeting will be held at the residence of Committee Convener and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The two sides today appeared to be preparing themselves for a showdown at tomorrow's meeting.

The meeting of the UPA-Left panel will coincide with the arrival here tomorrow of IAEA Director-General Mohammed El Baradei.

UNI

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