New Delhi, Jul 25: On Thursday, July 24, US President George W Bush in a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh expressed a desire to quickly move forward on Indo-US nuclear deal. Manmohan is also learnt to have responded with the same wish.
In a statement, US National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said,"Both leaders expressed their desire to see the US-India civil nuclear issue move forward as expeditiously as possible.Bush also told Manmohan "he looks forward to continuing to work with his government to strengthen the United States-India strategic relationship", Johndroe added. Earlier, the White House had warmly praised Manmohan for 'soldiering on" with a controversial US-India nuclear pact despite stiff opposition at home from the Left parties. Discussion was also held on stalled World Trade Organizations (WTO) talks.
“Bush and Singh discussed the importance of all leading WTO members making contributions to a breakthrough that will put the Doha Round negotiations on a path to conclude an ambitious agreement before the end of the year," Johndroe said.
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday, July 24 evening that New Delhi was now waiting to clear the next hurdle of getting the nod of IAEA Board of Governors.
“First, we shall have to get the approval of the Board of Governors of IAEA for India-specific safeguards agreement. I understand that the meeting of the Board of Governors is scheduled on August 1. If we get the approval of the Board of Governors in respect to India specific safeguards agreement, then it will be taken up to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Exact time frame is difficult to give, but we do hope, we will get the support of the countries," said Mukherjee.
The UPA Government which moved a trust vote motion on Monday, July 21 in the Indian Parliament when the Left parties withdrew support and reduced the government to a minority, won the trust vote by 275 to 256 margin on Wednesday, July 23. The Left withdrew support as the governement went to IAEA board to push further Indo-US nuclear deal which te left opposed.
US President's call came a day ahead of a crucial IAEA meet on Friday, where India will brief 144 IAEA members in Vienna on the technical aspects of the draft safeguards text, and address concerns of those not convinced like Pakistan, which is now pushing for a nuclear deal for itself.
Meanwhile Pakistan on Thursday said that such agreement should not be discriminatory in nature. Pakistan also has energy requirements and it should have the same. Pakistan had earlier sent letters to more than 60 countries including members of the IAEA and the NSG, warning them of an arms race in the subcontinent in case the Indo-US deal nuclear deal comes through.
Among other critics of the deal are China, Ireland and some Scandinavian countries.
But India is leaving no stone unturned. It has been dispatching its envoys to world capitals to muster support. The US too has been throwing its weight behind the deal, with the Bush administration going all out to ensure Congress clears the nuclear deal before Bush demits office.