New Delhi/Washington, July 23 : The United States will convince Pakistan into not voting against the India-specific safeguards agreement when the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meets in Vienna, Austria, later this month or early next month to give its approval to it, said U.S. Ambassador to India, David C. Mulford.
Conveying this message through a phono with select media at the American Centre here from Washington, Ambassador Mulford said he was well aware of Islamabad's reservations on the pact and on the US-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement, and expressed conviction about the Bush Administration's ability to "persuade" Pakistan to cooperate on the matter.
"We will address Pakistan's role at the IAEA," he said.
Welcoming the support in the Indian Parliament for the US-India civil nuclear cooperation initiative, Ambassador Mulford said a day after the UPA Government had won the trust vote by 275 to 256 that: "We will work closely with Government of India in days ahead for rapid completion of the ratification process through IAEA, Nuclear Suppliers Group and US Congress."
"The United States has been ready, is geared up for the next steps (in realising the US-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement). We had a meeting here with the coordinating committee on Monday, and now, we will work across a broad front, India will also work across a broad front to see the next steps in the deal through," Mulford added.
He said that the U.S. is keen to present the bilateral legislation before the U.S. Congress in the early part of September, following a meeting of the IAEA and two meetings of the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (IAEA)
When asked how he saw the deal panning out and whether New Delhi would be granted an unconditional waiver from the IAEA and the NSG vis-...-vis NPT-related strictures, Ambassador Mulford said: "I don't think you should use the term unconditional waiver'. We are working on a clean exemption draft that will go ahead and support the various theses that have been determined by both countries. We will be working for a consensus for a movement forward. There is the 123 agreement, the IAEA India-specific safeguards, the two meetings of the NSG, and a determination to be made by the President (Bush) before we go before the U.S. Congress with this piece of legislation."
He said that following the meeting of the IAEA, he expected the NSG members to meet after a week to ten days. Thereafter, there would be an assessment made on whatever more was needed so that the matter comes up in the U.S. Congress in early September.
Mulford refused to comment on the stances that each country would adopt on the proposed agreement at the IAEA and the NSG, adding that India and the United States would address the concerns of each country individually, and he expected from the United States point of view, the focus would be in telling each country to see the larger picture - of effecting a growing relationship with India, one of the most progressive economies in the world.
On what China's role would be at the NSG deliberations, Ambassador Mulford admitted that Washington has had talks with the leadership in Beijing, and the latter has "agreed to review the documentation (related to the US-India civil nuclear deal)."
"I cannot speak on behalf of China, but I can say that China will look at the agreement and review its stance on it," Mulford said.
He also confirmed that there had been a telephonic conversation between Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over the deal. He described it as a "friendly conversation" that focussed on all aspects of the proposed deal, and the next steps to be taken by both countries.
He said that Rice had told Mukherjee that she would be speaking to the leaderships of New Zealand and Australia, where she is visiting, and convince these two key NSG members to vote in favour of India.
He said that he expected India to send its ministers and officials to all IAEA and NSG countries to convince them about the deal and remove whatever concerns or reservations they had.
"Both countries would be actively pursuing the next steps. It would be a fully coordinated effort. The U.S. Congress is a sovereign body, capable of moving quickly. None can determine what it will do," Mulford said.
Replying to a question on whether the Bush Administration expected internal resistance to the deal, Mulford replied in the affirmative, but added: "We do expect a bipartisan majority to hold up in Congress."
The US Congress will have to meet before September when it breaks for session to meet only after the Presidential election process is completed in January next year.
The US has pledged to move forward on the civilian nuclear deal with India after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh won a vote of confidence in the Parliament.
"We think that we can move forward with this," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said about the nuclear deal at the daily briefing on Tuesday.
"If their legislature lets it move forward, then we can do the same here, and then we'll be able to get this wrapped up," she elaborated. By Ashok Dixit