Karat for non-voting resolution on Indo-US N-deal

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Kolkata, Oct 2: Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat today said it is not necessary to hold a voting resolution in Parliament on the much-touted Indo-US bilateral civil nuclear deal.

"We would like a discussion on the US nuclear deal in the Parliament. We are not insisting on a discussion of a voting resolution; it can be a non-voting resolution," Karat told reporters.

On October 31, almost three months after the crisis began for the UPA Government over the contentious nuclear deal triggered by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's warning to the Left, Karat lauded Singh's 'unquestioned integrity' and made it clear that the Left Front wants the UPA Government to complete its full term.

Karat had said that in spite of a 'basic difference' with the Prime Minister on the nuclear agreement, the Left "recognises that he (Singh) has strong convictions on the soundness and utility of the agreement."

"Our differing view on the agreement does not mean that we do not have respect for the Prime Minister. His integrity is unquestioned," Karat added.

Earlier last week, U S Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and US Ambassador to India, David Mulford met BJP President Rajnath Singh and leader of opposition Lal Krishna Advani to discuss the issues pertaining to the nuke deal.

The civilian nuclear cooperation deal aims to lift a three-decade ban on sales of US nuclear fuel and reactors to India, imposed after the latter conducted a nuclear test in 1974, while staying out of non-proliferation agreements.

The deal has brought the Manmohan Singh led UPA government to the brink of collapse as Left parties that provide outside support to the coalition government threatened to withdraw its support if the pact is pursued.

The communists have rejected the deal, saying it hurts India's sovereignty and imposes US hegemony.

The deal faces an informal US deadline related to securing approval of America's Congress well before presidential polls next year.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, Washington's main negotiator for the pact, had said that India did not have an unlimited amount of time.

The Bush Administration wants the agreement to go to Congress for its backing by the end of the year, he said in New York.

That deadline would be virtually impossible to meet if India does not move now to secure approvals from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Last month, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that the talks with the Left parties on the Indo-US 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, who is the convenor of the special UPA-Left committee, said, adding that it would not be the last meeting with the Left on the issue.

Expressing the hope of sorting out the differences with the Left parties, Mukherjee asserted that divergence views would be narrowed down, and rejected the viewpoint that the nuclear deal was dead.

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 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. (ANI)>

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