Wrap up nuclear deal in Bush tenure, insists Mulford

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi, Jan 28 | Updated: Jan 29 2008, 04:00am hrs
Even as it maintained that it was not pushing New Delhi, the Bush administration has signalled its keenness to get the civil nuclear deal operationalised before its tenure comes to an end early next year.

US ambassador David C Mulford on Monday conceded that the deal was facing problems, but the US was still hopeful. There are practical problems there. It is desirable that we move forward. But we are not pushing. We are patiently waiting for India to complete the processes, he told reporters here. It is practical to complete the processes, if we can, during the course of this administration, he added.

While reminding that time is of essence, Mulford, however, underlined that Washington was not pushing India as it has highest respect for the political processes of this country. The US envoy indicated that a 2010 schedule could not be ruled out for the deal if it got stuck, pointing out that there would not only be a new President in the US early next year, but also a new Congress will come into being. The deal issue may not then be taken up till the new government settles down in office, possibly by 2009 or 2010, he added.

The comments came as talks with IAEA continue amid stiff opposition from the Left allies against operationalisation of the deal. The Left have warned of serious consequences if the government pushes ahead with the deal and gave a conditional go-ahead to negotiate safeguards agreement with the IAEA. saying it should not be signed till approved by the UPA-Left coordination panel .

To a question, Mulford disagreed that failure of the deal would affect the growing relations between India and the US. He underlined that the relationship between India and the US had diversified to a large extent, which cannot be affected by any single issue.