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Differences still persist over Indo-US nuke deal: Burns
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Differences still persist over Indo-US nuke deal: Burns

India and the United States have considerable hard work to do, to resolve their differences over July 18, 2005 the civilian nuclear deal between the two countries, US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said on Thursday.Burns holding negotiations with Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon and other officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi, over the nuke deal regarded as a major test of friendship between both countries.

New Delhi, May 31: India and the United States have considerable 'hard work' to do, to resolve their differences over July 18, 2005 the civilian nuclear deal between the two countries, US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said on Thursday.Burns holding negotiations with Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon and other officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi, over the nuke deal regarded as a major test of friendship between both countries.

"Some hard work has to be done. As this agreement is very much in the interest of both the governments. I think it represents the most ambitious proposal, we have put forward in the last 30 years", Burns told reporters here.

"It allows us to correct major problems in relations with India. So, there are lots of reasons to feel optimistic about this agreement. We hope to make some progress over the next day or two in this regard," Burns added.

The two countries have struggled to overcome the differences over the fine print of the deal, after the U.S. Congress, concerned about preventing nuclear proliferation, introduced amendments to a law it approved in December backinghe deal.

As a result, the two sides have been unable to finalise a deal governing nuclear trade. India says it cannot accept changed goalposts in the deal, which it views as an infringement of its sovereignty.

The deal aims to overturn three decades of U.S. sanctions on the sale of nuclear reactors and fuel to India to help it meet its soaring energy needs, even though New Delhi has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has test-fired nuclear weapons.

India says it cannot accept new terms included in the deal (the Hyde Act), such as the U.S. decision to end nuclear trade with India, if New Delhi conducts another nuclear test, and not permitting India to reprocess spent fuel.

Although both sides say there is a strong political backing to push the deal through, Washington is apparently getting impatient with the delay in concluding it.

Some Indian officials' attribute this frustration to what they say is a feeling in Washington that the time is running out as President George W. Bush nears the end of his term.

But they say it would be difficult for India to compromise in the face of fierce political opposition from within and allegations of a possible sell-out to the US.

Meanwhile, M R Srinivasan and P K Iyengar, two of India's eminent scientists and nuclear experts have shared their apprehensions regarding the deal.

"The U.S. administration has to find a way to accommodate fully agreement reached with India in July 2005 and March 2006. If the only was to do so is to amend the Hyde Act, then the U.S. should plan to do so rather than press India for more compromises", said Srinivasan.

Iyengar who has been critical of the deal wrote in an editorial: "Once we sign the deal we will be at the mercy of the U.S. and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)."

ANI

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