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Experts expect N-energy partnership during Bush visit

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New York, Feb 23 (UNI) Two Indian experts have urged US President George W Bush to ensure that the civilian nuclear energy deal, initiated during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington in July last year, will be formally transformed into an agreement.

The appeal was made through a news article by K Subrahmanyam, former director of the New Delhi-based Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses. He is also a former convener of the National Security Council Advisory Board. G Parthasarathy, the other expert, is a former Indian envoy to Pakistan.

The July 18 deal faced opposition in both the United States and India. Those Americans, who have sought for 30 years to "cap, roll back and eliminate" India's nuclear programme, have strongly opposed the deal on the grounds of US policy on non-proliferation. And in India, it has been argued that the deal restricts New Delhi's ability to develop a credible nuclear deterrent.

Some Indians are also of the opinion that energy security should not be risked through imported nuclear fuel, which is envisaged in the deal.

Titled 'India deserves a nuclear partnership', the opinion piece appeared in yesterday's editions of The Wall Street Journal. It called for flexibility on both sides.

''Sorting out the present differences on implementing the July 18 deal on civilian nuclear cooperation will go a long way toward cementing a new partnership between the most powerful democracies in the world,'' the two experts wrote. ''Both India and the US owe it to each other to ensure that suspicions that clouded relations in the past do not impede larger strategic objectives today.'' The write-up praised President Bush for showing ''vision and political courage'' in initiating the deal. He has promised to amend U S laws by approaching Congress and India, in return, agreed to separate Indian civilian and military nuclear facilities in a phased manner, and place facilities designated by New Delhi as civilian under international inspections.

The deal has been endorsed by Britain, France and Russia which are keen on cooperating with India in the civilian nuclear field.

Though bilateral relations touched a new low in 1998, when New Delhi concluded nuclear tests, they have since improved tremendously.

President Bush lauded India as a ''responsible state with advanced nuclear technology'' as New Delhi had rejected requests for nuclear cooperation from Libya, Iraq and Iran. It also seized North Korean missile shipments.

The two experts called for taking the deal to its logical conclusion.

''There now appears to be growing support in the U.S. Congress for approving the July 18 deal,'' the article pointed out. ''Can the leaders of the two countries translate the vision embodied in their joint statement (of July 18) into reality?'' UNI XC YA BS1211

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