New Delhi, Mar 22: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is departing for US tonight to hold bilateral talks with American leaders. The talks are likely to be dominated by the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which Mukherjee had said that the UPA Government can neither "mend" nor "end".
He is expected to meet US President George W Bush on Monday and brief him on the progress in the negotiations with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Indo-US nuclear deal. On Friday, Mukherjee had said that the text of India's safeguards agreement with the IAEA had been finalised but can only be "initialed" after a nod from the Government's Left allies. "Some text has been reached, which only needs to be initialed, and that waits for the political process," he told a private channel ahead of his US visit.
Mukherjee said the Government is pressing ahead with its efforts on the nuclear deal and wanted the deal to materialise.
This will be Mukherjee's first bilateral visit to Washington as External Affairs Minister.
Mukherjee will also hold talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday to review the entire gamut of bilateral ties with special focus on the nuke deal. He will also meet other cabinet and administration officials, including those of the National Security Council.