Minority govt can't sign a major international agreement: Pranab

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New Delhi, Mar 6 (UNI) Ahead of his visit to Washington later this month, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said a minority government cannot sign a major international agreement.

About the Indo-US nuclear deal, he said the main issue was whether the next government would honour the agreement. ''That's the compulsion for us. A minority government cannot, need not and should not sign a major agreement like this,'' he told a news magazine in an interview stated for publication on Saturday.

He said the draft of the India-specific safeguards agreement needed for taking the nuclear agreement to the next stage was still not final.

India has already held five rounds of negotiations with International Atomic Eneregy Agency (IAEA) to clinch the safeguard agreement before it moves the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) seeking exemption for nuclear trade.

Asked about delays, he said the government did not commit to specific timetable for completing the various stages but efforts were underway to ''expedite'' the process. He said his forthcoming visit to Washington was purely of a ''bilateral'' nature and not restricted to issues related to the deal.

Whether the Left would compromise on the deal, Mr Mukherjee said it was a ''conjecture'' at this stage. ''I have clarified them about our perceptions of the 123 agreement. I have explained our perception of the Hyde Act. We are stating our positions and they are stating theirs.'' Scotching speculation of early elections, he, however, admitted that the survival of the UPA government was still of primary concern of the Prime Minister and the Congress President as stated in October.

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