India for nuke deal with US, talks with Pakistan: Patil

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New Delhi, Feb 25 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today expressed the hope that the UPA government would be able to implement the nuclear deal with the United States and said the dialogue process with Pakistan would be resumed ''when conditions permit.'' ''It is our hope that civil nuclear cooperation with the USA and other friendly countries will become possible,'' Ms Patil said, addressing a joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha that marked the beginning of the Budget session of Parliament. She did not elaborate.

The President's remarks assume significance as India begins today its fifth and final round of safeguards talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) amid reports that the deal would be clinched by early next month.

In her 55-minute address, the printed text of which ran into 19 pages divided into 68 paragraphs, Ms Patil said India was committed to peace, friendship and good neighbourly relations with Pakistan. A stable and prosperous Pakistan, at peace with itself, was in the interests of the entire region.

''When conditions permit we will resume our dialogue process with Pakistan, aimed at building mutual confidence and resolving outstanding issues, premised on an atmosphere free from terror and violence.'' The President assured Parliament that the UPA government would sustain the economic growth rate at 9 per cent, while keeping the prices of essential commodities under check and remaining fully alive to the threat of terrorism and extremism.

The continued endeavour of ''my government'' would be to ''sustain growth while keeping prices under check'' and ensure that the economic development was ''socially inclusive, regionally balanced and environmentally sustainable,'' she said.

Presenting a long list of the achievements of the nearly four-year-old government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the President said the overall internal security situation remained under control.

''My government is fully alive to the threat of terrorism and Left-wing extremism. The entire nation stood as one in condemning inhuman acts of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Assam,'' she said.

Further, the government would remain ''ever vigilant'' against the machinations of any anti-social and anti-national groups seeking to disrupt law and order, communal harmony and the unity and integrity of the country, she said without referring to the recent violence in Maharashtra against migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Also, there was no reference in her address to the proposal for providing reservation for women in Parliament and state legislatures. ''Women hold up half the sky,'' she said, asserting that empowerment of women through female literacy was the single biggest challenge of the government in the social sector.

Touching upon the sensitive issue of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), she said SEZs had already provided direct employment to about 100,000 persons, with indirect employment estimated at twice as much. ''They have attracted investment of over Rs 50,000 crore, and are expected to generate exports of Rs 67,000 crore this year.'' The President said she sincerely hoped...picking up from para one of PAR 2, PRESIDENT-ADDRESS TWO LAST LS/RS.

UNI SN RP DS1207

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