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PM will meet Muslim intellectuals to explain US deal

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 4 (UNI) Concerned over the protests by Muslims in many parts of the country against the recent visit of US President George W Bush to India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided to invite leading scholars and intellectuals of the community for a meeting.

Highly-placed sources said here today that the Prime Minister, who is also upset over the loss of life and the violence during the protests, would explain to the Muslims that the nuclear deal reached with the US during the visit was in no way an endorsement of what the Americans were doing in Iraq. A date for the meeting has not been set yet.

"He will explain to them that what we have done is for the benefit of the entire country, to address its energy security concerns, and was not aimed at any other country," they said.

The sources conceded that Iraq was one of the "problem areas" between India and the US and hoped that Iran and its nuclear programme would not turn into another such issue.

The Prime Minister, in fact, told Mr Bush during their meeting here on Thursday, that as an older person, his advice to him would be to deal with Iran and other such issues with a lot of diplomacy and patience.

Next week, the Prime Minister is due to make a statement in Parliament and explain to the nation the benefits that would accrue to India from the deal.

The sources said Dr Singh would also meet leaders of the Left and other political parties in this regard soon.

They regretted the protests against the visit by Left parties, especially when the Prime Minister had explained the deal in detail to them before Mr Bush's visit. "He will meet them again and explain things to them," they said.

They, however, agreed that there were large sections of people in the country who felt strongly about the deal. "We will explain things to them and win them over," they said.

The sources said that there were concerns about the deal even within the Congress party and the Prime Minister had fully briefed its President Sonia Gandhi and other leaders about the deal, ahead of Mr Bush's visit, and addressed all issues raised by them.

UNI SA NK ND1758

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