Ties with US not aimed at countering China: PM

New Delhi, Aug 3 | Updated: Aug 4 2005, 05:30am hrs
Dispelling apprehensions by the BJP-led Opposition and Left parties, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday made it clear in Lok Sabha that Indias close ties with the US were not aimed at ganging up against China or any other country.

India will remain engaged with China, he said while replying to a four-and-a-half-hour debate on his recent visit to the US.

We see new horizons in our relations with China. What we have done with the US is not at the cost of China or any other country, he said.

I want to dispel illusions. We are not ganging up against any country, least of all China, he said adding this is not a military alliance or an alliance against any country.

The Prime Minister rejected the Opposition charge that India has compromised on its strategic autonomy in the nuclear weapons programme.

We will never compromise on the autonomy in the management of our strategic nuclear weapons programme, he asserted.

There is nothing in the (Indo-US) joint statement that should convey that we compromised our autonomy in managing our nuclear assets, he said.

The Prime Minister said before going to the US he had meetings with BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani and Jaswant Singh as also with leaders of Left parties.

I was not sure of the outcome. So, I could not say all the things before I Left, he said.

On reservations over the issue of separation of civilian and nuclear components, Mr Singh said the chairman of the Atomic Energy commission (AEC) was part of his delegation to the US.

The atomic energy establishment agreed that such separation was feasible, he said contending that this is not imposed. It is voluntary and will be determined by US.

He said it will be phased identification as it cannot be done in one go. It will be so phased that our strategic nuclear programme will be fully safeguarded.

Mr Singh revealed that when the draft of the joint statement came from the US side, he had made it clear that it has to be approved by the AEC chief. It was held up by 12-15 hours for full approval.

The Prime Minister emphasised that all commitments made in the joint statement were reciprocal.

PTI