Washington, Sept.26 : US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may soon visit India to discuss the next steps in actualising the US-India civil nuclear cooperation deal.
Revealing this to the Indian media accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his 10-day visit to the United States and France, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said: "I think, we are discussing the possibility of the visit of the Secretary of State to India. We have been trying it for sometime and looking for possibility of dates."
As far the current status of the deal was concerned, Menon said that the Indian side would wait for the American Government to finish their internal processes, and till such time, there would be no speculative comment from Indian officials
"Let them finish their process. We will talk to you about this later. I have said this over and over again, I am not going to comment on their internal process. There can be reports or whatever you like but I don't see the point of commenting on it," said Menon.
When asked whether there Is a possibility of a ceremonial signing, Menon said: "Let the US complete their process. After that we will sign the agreement and take the next step."
When asked for his reaction to the limited time that the US Congress had, Menon said: "We are back to time-frames. I don't really know. This has been going on for quite some time. Earlier it used to be when you are going to be ready, when are you going to do NSG or this or that. We have never got into the time-frames. We are not the astrologers here."
On outcomes, he said: "I think, for me, the most important thing is the quality of the conversation. It was very easy flow of ideas. Both obviously understood each other well and were very comfortable with each other and for me that was very remarkable. You know, it was not a formal or a stilted conversation where you have an agenda that you have to say this or do that. Not at all, and I think that is a result of the success of the last few years of transformation in the relationship that we have accomplished. That was the experience of having successfully worked together. I have not seen a conversation of this quality at this level. It is very rare that you see this."
When asked what India would expect from the next American administration if the nuclear deal was not consummated in the next few months, Menon said:"There was no mention of that at all. But my own expectation is that this has something which has bipartisan support, both candidates have expressed support after the NSG clearance. As you can see, in the Congress there is bipartisan support, but the fact is that, they do have other things to do so it is really a function of their own process. I don't think it is a lack of will or support."
When asked whether there was any disappointment at the non-completion of the process? he said: "We have never set deadlines. Why set ourselves up for that kind of disappointment as you said. This is something new that we are trying, it is unprecedented, it is very important, it has tremendous potential. We have to work it and we have to learn as we go along. And so far I think we have done very well." y Naveen Kapoor