PM discusses NSG revised draft with political leadership

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New Delhi, Aug 30 (UNI) Ahead of the September 4-5 meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in Vienna to consider the question of giving a 'clean' waiver to India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today held discussions with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and his senior Party colleagues over the controversial Indo-US Nuclear Deal.

Official sources said the discussions mainly revolved around the revised version of the draft waiver being presented before the 45-member grouping at its next meeting in Vienna.

Besides Ms Gandhi, who always stood firm with Dr Singh in regard to the nuclear deal, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Ms Gandhi's Political Secretary Ahmed Patel also attended the meeting.

The revised draft, prepared by the United States, was handed over to India on August 28.

Indian think-tank on nuclear deal, which comprises of top officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Department of Atomic Energy, has already begun detailed and minute scrutiny of the text of the draft.

The team is expected to submit its report to the government before September 2 so that it could be presented before the NSG on September four.

"The priority of the government seems to be soundness of the draft waiver and not speed," a top MEA official said.

Sources said Dr Singh would again meet Ms Gandhi before the text draft is sent to Vienna.

Dr Singh is also expected to meet again Mr Mukherjee, Mr Narayanan and Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodar. He had a meeting with them yesterday on the draft text.

Though the changes in the revised draft was made jointly by a team of Indian and US officials, India seems to be over-cautious in a bid to avert any complexity hidden in the form of usages and language.

The US side had already expressed the hope that the revised draft would address the concerns of skeptic nations as well as meet the demand of India for a 'clean and unconiditional' exemption from the NSG.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, who has gone to US directly from Vienna after the August 21-22 NSG meeting, ended inconclusively, would again go to Vienna for next week's meeting there.

Mr Kakodar already made it clear that India would not accept any new conditions being imposed by those NSG countries who are opposed to granting a 'clean' waiver to New Delhi to engage in civil nuclear trade.

UNI SH SP HT1724

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