Boucher unwilling to comment on India's nuclear exemption chances

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New Delhi, Aug 20 (UNI) The United States has refused to spell out clearly its stance on whether India will get a clear exemption for participating in nuclear commerce with US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher saying ''we will have to see''.

His reaction came during an interview to the Outlook weekly magazine when asked whether India would get a clear waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG).

Anticipating that countries would raise many questions in the NSG about whether the proposed waiver for India fitted in with the general non-proliferation framework, the US official said ''Countries are going to want to raise issues and get questions answered... We may have to look for ways to allow people to express themselves without in way hampering or impinging cooperation with India.'' On being asked whether India could commence nuclear trade after winning the NSG waiver or it would have to wait for the US Congress to approve the nuclear deal, Mr Boucher struck an ambiguous note saying it depended on how the NSG exemption was worded.

''Our hope is to do things expeditiously -- in the IAEA Board, in the NSG, and with some understanding from our Congress to move expeditously there, so that there's no question of some people going ahead of others.'' Asked whether India has assured that it won't commence nuclear commerce with other states without the US Congress' approval of the deal, Mr Boucher said, ''we are both trying to make it all work out together. If there is some difference down the road, we will have to discuss it at that time.'' Expressing concern over the recent spurt in violent incidents in Kashmir, the official called upon all sections in the state to calm things down and get back to solving problems.

When informed that the general perception was that the US had ditched former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, Mr Boucher praised him for being a ''good ally''. He, however added, ''But Musharraf also understood last year that it was time to move toward a democratic election. With the outcome of the election, we recognised the need to work with the new government. That's why Prime Minister Gilani was here a couple of weeks ago. We thinks he is a friend and deserves to be a friend.'' On whether the US would offer asylum to Mr Musharraf, he replied, ''He's a free man. He can go wherever he wants. It is not an issue on the table, frankly.'' The interview will appear in the August 23 issue of the publication.

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