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No going back on deal, says Burns

Wednesday 29 March 2006

Washington: On the eve of crucial meetings on the Capitol Hill on the nuclear deal with India, the Bush administration said it was open to ideas and suggestions from Congress members on the agreement provided they were not deal-breakers requiring re-negotiations.

It also expressed a willingness to show flexibility on the `123 agreement,’ which is an outline of a final bilateral civil nuclear deal.

Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns will take up the agreement with the visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran this week.

Mr. Burns, who will discuss the deal with lawmakers on Wednesday, told reporters after his address in the Council on Foreign Relations that "there is a difference between ideas and suggestions that are meant to strengthen the agreement and ideas and suggestions that make us go back and negotiate it [the treaty]. We are open to the former and not to the latter."

The Bush administration would clear these ideas and suggestions with India.

Complex accord

"This happens all the time in the American system. The administration proposes an initiative, Congress has its own ideas and the administration then decides whether we want to agree to that or can agree to that. We will have to take these one at a time," Mr. Burns said.

The administration would be open to any idea "as long as it does not require us to go back and break the agreement," he said stressing that "the accord, being so complex, cannot be reassembled again."

"The reason why the India issue is not on the agenda of the Board Meeting [of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group] of late May is because we are not sure when Congress is going to act," he said.

He said he would now discuss the agreement with Mr. Saran but did not believe there would be a signing ceremony. "We are flexible that the 123 agreement will come after Congressional approval. But I think there is a lot of interest in Congress of what is going to be in it." - PTI

See online : The Hindu

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