Nuclear deal: Under pressure from US, Govt seeks Left help

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New Delhi, Oct 30 (UNI) Under intense pressure from the US, the UPA government is understood to have urged the Left parties to allow it to hold negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) on the the nuclear deal pending a final settlement of the stand-off by the UPA-Left coordination panel on the pact.

Government chief negotiator and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is learnt to have briefed CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Rajya Sabha MP Sitaram Yechury last night about his telephonic conversation with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the bilateral deal, sources told UNI.

Ms Rice called up Mr Mukherjee to convey that the US was keen on moving ahead with the civilian nuclear deal. The N-pact has turned out to be the stand-off between the two sides and the political mechanism to address the Left concerns is to hold its sixth meeting here on November 16.

Mr Yechury is believed to have reiterated the party's stated position against the deal. The party Central Committee has already endorsed the party Polit Bureau decision to oppose the deal.

The CPI(M) leader told Mr Mukherjee that he would put forward the External Affairs Minister's views at the party Polit Bureau meeting being held here on November 11 and 12.

''For us to hold negotiations with the IAEA amounts to operationalising the deal,'' added another senior Polit Bureau member M K Pandhe.

Mr Pandhe asserted that there is no question of the party changing its stated position.

Party senior leader and Deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Mohammad Salim said, ''The US administration is pushing India hard to a corner where it should have no other option but to fall in line.'' ''It is the US favour for which they are so eager or a compulsion, that is the question,'' Mr Salim wanted to know.

The CPI three-day National Executive and National Council deliberations that began here yesterday are also to take a final decision on the party approach in case the government insisted on operationalising the deal.

While the Left parties and the United National Progressive Alliance have joined hands for better coordination to oppose the deal in and outside Parliament, the US administration has also doubled its efforts to ensure that the deal gets through.

While US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson held a meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Kolkata, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger held a series of meeting with the government and the opposition members.

US ambassador in India David Mulford has been engaged in similiar exercises for the past one week.

UNI

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