CPI willing to consider Centre's plan for agreement with IAEA

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New Delhi, Nov 12 (UNI) In a major concession to the UPA government battling to salvage the 123 civilian nuclear deal with the US, CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan today said his party would consider allowing the Centre to go to the IAEA for a safeguards agreement as long as no agreement was signed before clearing it with the Left.

This is for the first time that a section of the Left has scaled down the tone and tenor of its opposition to the nuclear deal, which it says will impact India's strategic options.

''The UPA-Left Committee is willing to consider the government's proposal. If this happens it will be a major concession by the Left,'' Mr Bardhan told NDTV.

Asked if the Left would allow the government to go to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) without signing anything, he said, ''...yes, it can be allowed, provided that they come back before initialising it. Before sending it to the Board of Governors, they should come (before the Left-UPA committee) and if at that time also we say that no, nothing doing, then they should stop.'' He was also asked whether he would consider a suggestion from the government that it be allowed to go to the IAEA and firm up the safeguards agreement, but it would be signed only when its text was first shown to the Left leaders.

Mr Bardhan said it was not a question of his considering it.

''It's a question of this being said in the committee that has been set up. It is also about the committee coming to this finding that yes, it can be allowed, provided that they come back before initialising it, before sending it to the Board of Governors. And if at that time also we say that no, nothing doing, then they should stop.'' To a suggestion that it could be considered, the Left leader said, ''I am only saying this, let them come to the committee and the committee will consider it.'' The CPI(M) also foresaw the possibility of ''sorting out'' differences between the Manmohan Singh government and the Left parties on the Indo-US nuclear deal at the next meeting of the UPA-Left panel.

''Something will be worked out hopefully in the next meeting,'' party General Secretary Prakash Karat said. He, however, made it clear that even though both the sides had put forward their viewpoints, ''the good thing is that the government has not gone to talk to the IAEA and the NSG.'' Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is currently in Russia on an official visit, said in Moscow that his government was making every effort to evolve a national consensus on the nuclear deal.

During his interaction with the media along with President Putin, Dr Singh stated that the nuclear deal was a subject matter of discussions with coalition partners of the government.

He was asked as to when the government proposed to approach the IAEA or the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the deal. ''The process of evolving a national consensus (on the deal) is still on,'' he replied.


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