Crucial UPA-Left panel meet on nuclear deal on June 18

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New Delhi, Jun 18: Yet another crucial meeting of the UPA-Left panel on the Indo-US nuclear deal will be held here today. Ahead of the meeting, the government stepped up its efforts to enlist the support of the Left parties for the agreement but the latter stuck to their stated position.

The Left-UPA panel on the Indo-US nuclear is to meet for the 10th time today. The panel will discuss the text of a draft India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency or the IAEA.
Panel convenor and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat on Monday night and is reported to have asked the Left parties to allow the government to seal the safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat confirmed about the meeting to the sources but refused to divulge the details.''Yes, we had a one-to-one meeting but the details will be known later,'' Mr Karat said. When asked about the status of the deal and the Left viewpoint, Mr Karat chose to evade the question on the plea that ''Our views are well known''.

Another important member on the panel, A B Bardhan said in today's meeting ''we will know the view of the government.'' ''As far as the views of Left are concerned... our position remains unchanged,'' Mr Bardhan said. Elaborating, the CPI veteran said that while the government wanted to execute the deal, the Left parties were vehemently opposed to it.

However, according to observers, the meeting to be held at Mukherjee's official residence at 1600 hrs is not likely to provide any breakthrough with Karat and Bardhan sticking to their respective positions.

While the top brass of the government including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi have made a strong pitch for the nuclear pact, the Left leaders assert, ''We cannot go by a timetable set by the Bush administration.''

UNI

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