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Indian PM hopes to rally support for nuclear deal: report

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
by Staff Writers
New Delhi (AFP) June 30, 2008
India's prime minister promised Monday to bring a nuclear pact with the US before parliament before going ahead with the deal that is fiercely opposed by his communist allies, a report said.

In a conciliatory move, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conceded there were "concerns" about the pact and pledged to bring the final text "to parliament before I proceed to operationalise (the deal)," the Press Trust of India reported him saying.

Tensions between Singh and the communists have been running high with the prime minister last week appearing ready to risk the collapse of his minority government and proceed with the pact after talks between the two sides failed to make a breakthrough.

The communists, who prop up Singh's government in parliament, have rejected the pact fearing the deal will ally New Delhi too closely with Washington.

The opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party opposes the deal because it says it will compromise the country's military programmes.

Singh, who sees the deal as one of his government's biggest achievements, said he hoped "we can still work out an outcome that will satisfy all parties... I am only saying you will allow me to complete the negotiations.

"All that I want is the authority to proceed with the process of negotiations through all stages like the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) that will not tie down the hands of the country," he said.

"I have said it before, I will repeat it again -- that I have told them (the Left): you allow us to complete the process. Once the process is over, I will bring it before parliament and abide by the house," he added.

The deal -- agreed in principle in 2005 with US President George W. Bush -- would allow India to buy atomic power plants and technology despite not signing international non-proliferation pacts.

But New Delhi needs to negotiate an accord with the IAEA to allow inspections of its atomic plants before it can enter the global nuclear trade. It also needs clearance from the NSG, which controls global atomic commerce.

After that, the deal needs final approval from the US Congress.

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Bush exit may pave way for new nuclear security strategy
Washington (AFP) June 29, 2008
President George W. Bush's impending departure has rekindled hopes that new US leadership can prop up the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which marks its 40th year Tuesday.

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