China, Oct 25: Today External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the talks with the Left parties on the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal would continue beyond the November 16 meeting. “We are working to reconcile a position… We are trying to get a solution. Let us see what is the outcome of the meeting on November 16," Mukherjee said, adding that it would not be the last meeting with the Left on the issue.
Expressing hope of sorting out the differences with the Left parties, Mukherjee asserted that divergence views would be narrowed down. He also rejected the viewpoint that the nuclear deal is dead. “It is your assumption, your opinion, not mine, I am appointed to find a solution to the problem," Mukherjee, who is the convenor of the special UPA-Left committee, replied when asked whether the nuclear deal has been put to rest. He also asserted that the country has been following an independent foreign policy, since independence.
The special committee of the UPA and the Left, formed to resolve disagreements between the two sides over the nuclear deal, held deliberations for the fifth time on the issue on October 22. They decided to continue the talks even as the 'unofficial' deadline for India to initiate formal negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for country-specific agreements ends in October.
There has been a general opinion that the bilateral agreement could be difficult to operationalise since Left parties are trying to woo the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) to launch a joint opposition to the deal. Three more steps are required to operationalise the deal that include, safeguard agreement with the IAEA, amendment in the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group's charter and the passing of the 123-agreement by the US Congress.
The civilian nuclear cooperation deal aims to lift a three-decade ban on sales of US nuclear fuel and reactors to India, which was imposed after it conducted a nuclear test in 1974 while staying out of non-proliferation agreements.
The Left Front, which provides crucial support to the government from outside, has been opposing the deal and the situation between UPA and Left reached a nadir, sparking the prospect of snap elections.