Ratify N-deal by July or lose it completely: US

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New Delhi, Feb 20: The United States today asked India to send the Civilian Nuclear Agreement to the US Congress before May after completing the negotiations so that it can be ratified by July and warned that the new US administration would re-negotiate the terms.

Three US Senators--Joseph R Biden (Democrat) who is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry (Democract) and Chuch Hagel (Republican)--said at a press conference here it was critical that the Indian government move on it (the deal) within weeks and if it was not ratified by July, the next government would re-negotiate the terms and conditions.

He said the new government could raise new issues regarding NPT and other such pacts.

''We are running out of time. If we do not have the deal back before us clearly prior to the month of July, it is going to be different.....If we do not have the deal in time, it is highly unlikely that the next President will present the same deal. It will be re-negotiated...India should settle the issue with the IAEA,'' Senator Biden said.

Senator Kerry said ''It should come to the Congress in May so that it can be ratified by July end.'' The three Senators, who were in Pakistan yesterday to ''witness'' the elections, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, National Security Advisor (NSA) M K Narayanan and several Parliamentarians here today and discussed the Indo-US Nuclear deal and several other crucial issues including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar and climate change.

They said they were aware of India's domestic compulsions and pressures on the issue but were concerned that the failure of the deal would create misunderstandings about the US in India.

Senator Biden said a number of Senators had worked for the deal, notwithstanding opposition from some, and felt that it was good for India because the relationship with India was important.

''Time is of the essence,'' he added.

Senator Kerry said ''if we don't get the IAEA component done (in time), it is going to be difficult.'' Both the Senators said the US valued its relationship with India and the Nuclear deal was just a component of that. Senator Biden said the evolving partnership between India and the US was based on common interest of regional security and went beyond the nuclear deal.

There was a need to pay attention to security in South Asia and it was important that India became part of the process.

''The US views the relationship beyond that...Our worry is that if the government waits too long, it could be interpreted as rejection or lack of trust. That will be a shame. We trust India...We value very much India being brought back to the table (for long-term regional security). India should be at the table,'' Senator Kerry said.

He said they met the Prime Minister and the NSA with the message that no time should be lost for ratifying the deal and that Indo-US relations were good for long-term regional security.

Asked about the Prime Minister's response Senator Kerry said he (the Prime Minister) was optimistic about the deal clearing all hurdles in time.

''He was straightforward and spoke about his Party's dilemma. We asked him whether it was over or not. He said no,'' he added.


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