N-deal after consensus with Left parties: Pranab

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Washington, Mar 26: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has ruled out the possibility of sacrificing the UPA government or the US-India nuclear agreement, saying that they are engaged in finding a 'meeting ground between us and a section of our (Left) supporters who opposed to the deal.

The Minister made this observation at a press conference here yesterday in response to a blunt question, whether the UPA is ready to sacrifice the government for this deal? ''It is not a question of sacrificing either the deal or sacrificing the government. Currently, we are engaged in resolving the issues and trying to find out whether we can find a meeting ground between us and a section of our supporters,'' he said. However, he insisted that his government was interested in fructifying the nuclear cooperation with the United States as we are energy deficient and we will like to have an alternative source of clean energy.

He spoke of some domestic problems involving the deal which they were trying to resolve and this process might take some more time. If we are able to evolve a consensus then it will be possible to hasten the process, the minister said.

Asked as to how much time this process of consensus-building might take, he said, ''events have their own momentum. It is difficult to predict the time line, which month we will get a consensus, whether it is June or August.'' Mr Mukherjee also referred to the opposition to the deal from the Bharatiya Janata Party in addition to those of the Leftists and said the consensus was necessary to ensure that it was honored by the next government to avoid embarrassing situation for the country.

Earlier, in a written statement, he said that the discussions with the American leadership had reinforced our view that the India-US relationship is robust and forward-leaning and answers to the interests of both countries. 'I believe that there is consensus in both countries to strengthen India-US ties and to further enrich our bilateral agenda,''he added.

Mr Mukherjee said that our relations encompass a meaningful and regular political dialogue, vibrant economic and commercial interaction and collaboration over a wide spectrum of issues including energy, defense, space, science and technology, agriculture and education.

We also discussed the way forward on opening civil nuclear cooperation by India with US and other partners as a critical element of our energy security, he added.

During his two-day visit, he met President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and National Securing Adviser Stephen Headley.


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