We stand committed on Nuke deal: PM to Bush

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New Delhi, Jul 8: Declaring his firm commitment to taking the necessary steps to implement the Indo-US nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday, July 7, said the country will take a decision soon to go to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to clinch the safeguards agreement with the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog. Interacting with the media on way to Japan to participate in the 34th summit of eight economic powers of the world (G8) as an outreach member of O-5, he said he will convey his committment to US President George Bush during a meeting with him at Toyako.

''I will tell Bush I am committed to the deal and push it. We stand committed ..will take a decision (on going to the IAEA) very soon.'' He said once India took the decision of going to the IAEA, the US will have to fulfil its commitment of getting it through the nuclear watch dog and Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Disclosing that an 'agreed text' of the safeguards agreement was ready, the Prime Minister said it was now for the IAEA board to take a call on it. Declining to commit to a timeline in signing the agreement with the IAEA, he said it will happen soon as the deal has support of all major powers such as the United States, France, United Kingdom and Russia.

On China's view, the fifth permament member of the UN Security Council, he said he had discussed the issue with Chinese leaders but ''I can not say I have their firm assurance (of support for India) but the Chinese will not be a problem''.

Meanwhile, Left parties' threat to withdraw support from the Congress-led UPA government expires today if it fails to respond to their letter seeking to know as to when the government will go to the IAEA board to sign India-specific safeguards agreement.

Asked if he was worried that the Left, which has a bloc of 59 members in the Lok Sabha, will pull the plug on his government, Dr Singh quipped, ''I am not worried...as and when such a situation comes we are well-equipped to deal with it''.

Describing the Left leaders as 'valuable colleagues and patroits',the Prime Minister said ''we can still solve our differences (on the nuke deal)''.

On the Left's charge that by signing the deal India's foreign policy would be compromised, he said ''India is too big a country to kowtow to any body''.

''We will cross the bridge when we come to it...I am not afraid of facing Parliament...I don't need any advice from Advani,'' Dr Singh said on BJP leader L K Advani's demand that his government seek a trust vote in view of the Left's threat to withdraw support to his government.

Reiterating that the deal is in India's national interests, the Prime Minister said it will help secure her energy needs and open the way to dual-use technologies. He said he was again willing to give all the assurances to the Left parties and others, adding he had explained things in a meeting with his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Mr Advani and Mr Brijesh Mishra, former National Security Advisor to Mr Vajpayee, were presnet in that meeting.

The Indian premier was flanked by NSA M K Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and his special envoy on the deal, Shyam Saran.

UNI

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