Obama not in favour of changes in Indo-US nuclear deal

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New Delhi, Jul 11 (UNI) US Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama has said he is ''reluctant'' to seek changes in the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement and hopes to see the deal concluded before the year end.

The statement dismisses Congress fears that the new Administration in the US could impose new restrictions if the deal was not concluded this year.

He said the deal in its present form effectively balances a range of important issues--from US strategic relationship with India to its non-proliferation concerns and India's energy requirements.

''I am, therefore, reluctant to seek changes...A final judgement on the deal must await IAEA's approval of a Safeguards Agreement with India and changes to be agreed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

At that point the US Congress will decide whether to approve the agrement. I continue to hope this process can be concluded before the end of the year,'' he said in an interview to the 'Outlook'news weekly.

Mr Obama was also asked whether his administration in 2009 would reopen or even scrap the deal if it was not clinched before the end of this year.

He, however, admitted that he had some reservatons about the original agreement but said it could enhance Indo-US partnership, deepen cooperation and help combat global warming.

Observing that he would like India-US relations to grow ''across the board,'' Mr Obama specifically pointed out areas for cooperation which include counter-terrorism, military cooperation, promotion of democracy in South Asia and beyond and combating climate crisis and global poverty.

''I would also like to see agriculture given a higher priority in our relations as India pursues its goal of a second Green Revolution,'' he said.

On Pakistan, he said his aim would be to emphasise support for democracy and social and economic deveopment, not only counter-terrorism.

''We must align ourselves with Pakistan and its people and not just one individual.'' he said.

Mr Obama said he was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and throughout his life he had always looked to Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration.

''Throughout my life, I have always looked at Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration because he embodies the kind of transformational change that can be made when ordinary people come together to do extra-ordinary things. That is why his portrait hangs in my Senate office, to remind me that real results will come not just from Washington--they will come from the people,'' Mr Obama said.

UNI RB PDT AS1819

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