Pranab says differences with Left over nuclear pact persists

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New Delhi, Jan 13 (UNI) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has admitted that the UPA Government has so far not been able to iron out differences with the Left parties on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

''We are engaged in serious discussions with them on the subject,'' he said in an interview with Karan Thapar for CNBC TV 18's 'India Tonight' programme to be telecast tomorrow night.

Mr Mukherjee said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had appointed a small group to iron out the differences with the Left parties over the nuclear deal.

''Several rounds of discussions have taken place with the Left parties, but we have not been able to completely iron out the differences,'' he added.

The Minister said the Government was at present holding discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to finalise the India-specific safeguards agreement as per the decision taken in the last meeting between UPA-Left Coordination Committee on October 16 last year.

''As per the decision, we have to show them the agreed text of the final agreement with IAEA,'' he said.

After that, Mr Mukherjee said the UPA-Left coordination committee would decide the future course of action vis-a-vis the nuclear deal.

''We are aware of the position stated by various Left parties on the issue from time to time. Despite that, we are talking to each other,'' he said.

The Minister refused comment on a statement of Forward Bloc General Secretary Debabrata Biswas that the Left had given the Government a go ahead to hold talks with IAEA only to have an ''honourable exit'' from the nuclear deal.

''Various interpretations have been coming and I am not going to comment on those,'' he asserted.

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