Rice urges India to go ahead with the N-deal

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Washington, Oct 30: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has conveyed to her Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee that the Bush Administration continues to support the US-India civil nuclear agreement, urging New Delhi to move forward on the landmark deal.

Rice conveyed this message in a telephonic conversation with Mr Mukherjee yesterday.

Later, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, ''She [Rice] wanted to underline and reinforce for the Indian Government that we continue to support moving forward with the agreement.'' He, however, said, ''It was made clear that the resolution to the political discussions [on the deal] within India are for the Indian political system to resolve.'' When asked anything that he thinks the US Government can do to try to advance that, as earlier (it was) ruled out absolutely, and assuming that continues to be the case. Is there no renegotiation possible with the agreement as it was reached already, McCormack said, ''I don't believe that there's any consideration of that or any discussion of that on either side at this point.

On being probed further on anything else he thinks can be done to try to help with this process, McCormack said, ''At this point, I believe it's really a matter for the Indian political system to resolve. There are questions about it in and whatever that resolution is, it's going to be up to them; however they have to decide whichever way want to go.

Asked whether Secretary Rice was sill hopeful of the deal, the Spokesman said, ''She still supports it going forward.'' ''We have conveyed that to the Indian Government at a number of different levels. They're working through some domestic politics. I know that there is an intense debate within India right now concerning the civil nuclear deal (proposed civil nuclear deal with the United States).'' ''The Indian people and the Indian political system are going to have to work out whatever resolution of that debate there will be.

But we continued to urge the Indian Government to move forward with this deal and we are prepared to move forward with it as well,'' McCormack added.

UNI

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