Congress, Left hold meeting to discuss nuclear issue

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New Delhi, Jun 25 (UNI) Hours before the crucial meeting of the UPA-Left panel on the contentious issues pertaining to the 123 Agreement and the Hyde Act, hectic consultations between top Congress leaders and the Left parties began this morning.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat went to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's residence and held discussions for about 45 minutes. Later, Congress leader and Defence Minister A K Antony also reached Mr Mukherjee's house to hold deliberations.

Both leaders apprised Congress president and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi of the stand taken by the Left parties on the nuclear issue.

The Core Committee has taken the stand that the nuclear deal with the US is in the interest of the country and the party was firmly behind Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The government's proposal to approach United Nation's nuclear watchdog IAEA for a safeguard agreement ran into a serious political logjam with the Marxists threatening to withdraw support if the government went ahead with the pact.

Even as the allies, who supported the nuclear accord, offered a word of caution to the government, saying time was not ripe for going for an early general election, political sources, however, expressed the hope that the meeting would be able to de-escalate tensions between the UPA and the Left as both sides understood the implications of going in for an early election.

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