EAM leaves for US, to discuss Nuclear deal

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New Delhi, Mar 23 (UNI) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee left here for the US last night for further discussions on the civilian nuclear deal and several bilateral, regional and international issues.

He is accompanied by Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon. The discussions will take place tomorrow and on Tuesday.

The External Affairs Minister will call on President George W Bush and discuss bilateral, regional and international issues.

He will also hold talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

''The discussions will include a review of all aspects of the India-US bilateral relationship,'' the External Affairs Ministry said here.

Sources said Mr Mukherjee will apprise the US Administration of the progress on the text of the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA.

Mr Mukherjee undertakes the journey even as the Left allies of the UPA have upped the ante against the deal, asking the government to scrap it. However, the government has ruled out either mending or ending the deal.

The next step includes taking up the matter with the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) whose nod is essential for the implementation of the Deal.

The US has said it would take up the matter with the NSG once the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA is complete.

Many members of the NSG have reservations about India being given the nuclear concessions since it is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The US had given to India July deadline for sending it back after the IAEA negotiations so that further progress could be made before the current Bush administration bowed out of office.

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