Gates echoes US Senators' warning to India on Nuclear deal

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New Delhi, Feb 27 (UNI) The United States has warned India that the ''clock is ticking'' on the civilian nuclear deal and asked New Delhi to complete all formalities before the elections to the US Congress.

The warning was conveyed by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who concludes his two-day visit to India today, in his meetings with Indian leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee during the past two days.

Mr Gates, who held talks with the Defence Minister today, told reporters that the nuclear agreement served the interests of both countries and ''has positive global consequences'.' ''The clock is ticking in terms of how much time is available to get all the differnt aspects of an agreement implemented,'' he said.

Mr Gates arrived here yesterday on the visit, his first to India since taking over as the Defence Secretary in December last year, primarily to pitch for a 10.2 Billion Dollar Defence deal for fighter jets.

On his arrival, Mr Gates told reporters that Defence ties between the two countries and the civilian nuclear issue were independent of each other.

Mr Gates, however, did not give any deadline like the three influential Senators had given last week when they asked India to send the deal back to the Congress by May so that it could be completed before July.

The three 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 on February 20 that 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.

The US Defence Secretary said he was aware of India's domestic XXX picking up opening para of DI 15, External--Gates Nuclear two New Delhi.

UNI RB DS KN1804

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