UPA- Left coordination panel on nuke deal to meet today

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New Delhi, Mar 17 : The crucial meeting between the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and Left coalition partners on the much-touted Indo-US civil nuclear deal is scheduled to take place here this evening.

The meeting is likely to be held at External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's residence at around 5:00 p.m. The Central Government will present the draft safeguards agreement finalised with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for endorsement of the UPA-Left Parties panel.

The UPA-Left Committee had earlier allowed the Government to hold negotiations with the IAEA on the condition that it should come back to the committee once the negotiations are over to appraise it of the progress.

On Saturday, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that differences pertaining to the deal with the Left parties would be resolved. "I am hopeful of sorting out the issue (with the Left)," Mukherjee had said.

During last few weeks, lot has been talked about deadline relating to the Indo-US nuke deal. It faces an informal US deadline related to securing approval of America 's Congress well before this year Presidential polls.

Three steps are required to operationalise the deal namely, safeguards agreement with the IAEA, amendment in the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group's charter and the passing of the 123-agreement by the US Congress.

Mukherjee had earlier said that the survival of the UPA Government is more important than the deal and that the Left parties have to be taken on board.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had also said in Parliament that the Government's attempt is to evolve the broadest possible consensus on the issue.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (CPI) General Secretary A B Bardhan told a TV channel that the Left Parties would not destabilise the UPA Government even if differences over the deal compel them to withdraw their support.

Bardhan said that the Left Parties might stay neutral or let the Government work in caretaker capacity.

The Left, which has over 60 members in the Lok Sabha, has been giving outside support to the UPA Government since 2004.

ANI

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