No new rider to N-deal: PM

New Delhi, July 26 | Updated: Jul 27 2006, 05:30am hrs
Making it clear that any shifting of goalpost vis-a-vis the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement is unacceptable, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave a categoric assurance to Parliament on Wednesday that his government would stick to the framework laid out in the joint statement of July 18, 2005 and reject any new conditionality from the US in the deal.

Making an intervention in the Lok Sabha during question hour to answer queries from the Left, BJP and the SP members on the deal, Singh said his government would not make any compromises that would be inconsistent with last years joint statement and would lay out the contours of the agreement before Parliament. The government is making efforts to ensure utmost transparency and overall accountability with regard to the deal reached between me and US President George W Bush, he said.

Singhs assurance, however, does not seem to have satisfied the Left parties, who on Wednesday continued to press for an unambiguous articulation in Parliament, preferably in the form of a House resolution. Singh was forced to convene an informal meeting of senior ministers at his residence on Wednesday evening to try and defuse the developing situation.

The Left, along with the BJP, had first mooted the idea of a unanimous resolution on Monday, which had prompted the Prime Minister to clarify the government stand.

The Left parties, however, made it clear that Singhs assurance would have to take into account the concerns which he raised with Bush at St Petersburg recently.

The Left parties said there were indication of deviation in nine points of the separation plan which Singh had outlined in his last articulation in Parliament. These included the issue of rejecting a nuclear cap on testing.

In the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Singh noted that he had apprised Parliament of the details of the deal more than once, and reiterated that the government was ready for a debate on the issue. He also said he was willing to make a suo motu statement on the issue.

Singhs response came after deputy leader of the BJP VK Malhotra sought a debate on the issue.