N-issue: India not seeking spl privilege from NPT

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New Delhi, May 6: Asserting that India was not seeking any special privilege from the NPT signatory countries of the Non-Aligned Movement on the Nuclear issue, the government today said efforts were on to complete the political process and conclude the Indo-US nuclear deal as soon as possible.

''India is not seeking any special privilege. It has an impeccable record. So the question of special privileges does not arise,'' said Mr Shyam Saran, Prime Minister's Special Envoy on the Indo-US nuclear deal when asked about his reaction on media reports about both Non Aligned Movement and Iran having slammed the pact. In an informal chat with journalists at the Indian Women's Press Corps, Mr Saran said it was the stated position of NPT signatories and not of NAM countries. There was no departure from their earlier stand, he said and added, ''They have a view point and we respect it, but we have our stand.''

Asserting that the deal was in India's interest, he said it should be concluded as soon as possible. However, it was in the best interest of the country that the agreement goes through the political process which may take time, he said while referring to the ongoing negotiations between the government and the Left Parties on the deal.

''The government is committed to the agreement. We will continue to make efforts to make it a reality,'' he said and added that when the matter would come up before the Nuclear Supplier Group on May 27, both India and the US would try to make it a practical reality as it was a joint enterprise of both.

''It is a joint enterprise of India and the US, so there is no question of India embarrassing the US or the US embarrassing India.

It is in the best interest of both,'' he said.

Negotiations over the shape of safeguards are going on before the International Atomic Energy Agency and once they were finalised the Nuclear Supply Group would meet on May 27. About the possibility of change of government in the US after Presidential elections adversely impacting the deal, Mr Saran said, '' The sooner we have the deal the better as the world will not stand still. But we must realise the political reality on the ground both within India and the US.'' Pointing out that earlier when the deal was discussed in the US Congress there was a bipartisan support to it, he said that there was good chance that the bapartisan consensus in favour of the deal would continue even after the change of the government.

Refuting the charge that despite knowing the stated position of the Left and BJP against the deal the government went ahead with it on July 18, 2005, he said there were concerns expressed but no one said that there was anything wrong with the agreement.

Concern over R&D process was expressed and the government decided to clear the apprehensions before Parliament and take political parties and civil society into confidence. He said that taking the political process forward, discussions were held subsequently where some ''valid concerns'' were raised which ''we tried to answer.'' The UPA and the Left are meeting to discuss the deal this evening.

UNI

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