Pranab to visit US to resolve N-deal issue

9 years ago | 27-02-2008 | SAMPURN

NEW DELHI, February 27: With a view to resolve the crisis arising out of the US pressure to sign the nuclear deal as well as the Left ultimatum to withdraw support from the ruling UPA government, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee may visit Washington sometime next month.

Although the dates of Mukherjees US visit are yet to be finalized, it is certain that the nuclear deal will be the main focus of hisvisit to the US. It is being hoped that the IAEA safeguards agreement will be concluded before Mukherjee travels to the US. Acording to top US sources, the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is looking forward to welcoming Foreign Minister Mukherjee to the United States.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates who is currently visiting India has expressed hopes that the nuclear deal would be completed successfully while US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, the American Pointsperson for the nuclear deal, said the July timeline for concluding the remaining steps for operationalising the nuclear deal was realistic.

That the US has been continuing to pressurize India at different levels to finalize the remaining steps in the nuclear deal is evident from the fact that though defense ties and especially the purchase of 126 fighter jets were on top of Mr Gates agenda, the nuclear issue did not remain far behind.

Talking to reporters, Gates said that the US is certainly hopeful that India can get done what it needs to, so that they can get done what needs to be done. Even though the US is describing the nuclear deal a `symbolic centre-piece of Indo-US bilateral ties, Gates said that defense relations with India would continue regardless of what happens to the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, while the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government here is under pressure to close the IAEA safeguards agreement and is unable to convince its allies on the advantages of the nuclear deal, the Bush administration has started stepping up the pressure.