New Delhi, Mar 20: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will reach Washington on Sunday for bilateral talks with top US officials. The talks are expected to be dominated by the US-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which Mukherjee has said the UPA Government can neither 'mend' nor 'end'. This will be Mukherjee's first bilateral visit to Washington as External Affairs Minister.
Mukherjee will have discussions with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on March 24. He will also hold talks with other cabinet and administration officials, including those of the National Security Council. In the Rajya Sabha on March 26, while stridenty defending the need for the nuke deal and responding to concerns raised by its members during a discussion on foreign policy-related developments, Mukherjee said: "We are in a stage where neither we can mend it nor end it. We are in the dialogue stage."
Noting that there was some advancement in talks with regard to an India-specific safeguards agreement at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mukherjee said the negotiations are yet to be inked.
"When the entire process is over, we will come and seek Parliament's opinion. Let that stage come," he said rejecting the BJP demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee on the deal.