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Updated: March 26, 2010 03:17 IST

Liability Bill will not impinge on nuclear deal: Krishna

P. S. Suryanarayana
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The basic understanding between the U.S. and India continues [to exist] in its own steam: External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna. File photo
The Hindu The basic understanding between the U.S. and India continues [to exist] in its own steam: External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna. File photo

India's civil nuclear deal with the United States “does not have to be altered” because of the “democratic process” of New Delhi's initiative for a relevant parliamentary Bill, according to External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.

The passage of the Bill on civil nuclear liability is generally seen as an important aspect of implementing the India-U.S. accord.

“The basic understanding between the U.S. and India continues [to exist] in its own steam,” Mr. Krishna said in a conversation with The Hindu. He is on a four-day visit to the City-State for talks with its leaders.

Asked whether he really expected U.S. firms to set up nuclear power reactors in India, Mr. Krishna said, “The basic thrust [of the accord with Washington] is to augment our power resources.” In fact, “we are going ahead with identifying sites for the Russians, Americans, the French, and others.”

He described the issue of reprocessing the spent fuel of nuclear reactors under the U.S.-India accord as “very complex and highly technical.” However, “we will be able to overcome those difficulties.”

Headley issue

Mr. Krishna sounded “hopeful” on India being able to access David Headley, the U.S. terror suspect of Pakistani origin, for interrogation in connection with the 26/11 attacks.

“The U.S. and India have an understanding about counter-terrorism. And as part of that strategy, we are hopeful that we will be able to reach Headley.” On the strategic dialogue between the U.S. and Pakistan, Mr. Krishna said it was nothing surprising. Their “track record” was one of seeing “eye-to-eye on a large number of issues.”

However, he added, the notion of the U.S. being able to arm-twist India over its options in dealing with Pakistan “certainly does not arise.”

In the most recent “ice-breaking moment” of talks with Pakistan, Mr. Krishna said India had “conveyed [its] concerns about terror.” At the same time, “we have honestly told them we are willing to address their concerns. Our conscience is clean. If there is restlessness in Baluchistan, India cannot be blamed for that.”

‘Tranquil China border'

In an update on New Delhi's engagement with Beijing, the Minister said: “The India-China border is one of the most tranquil borders. The exaggerated notions about [Chinese] incursions are not factually correct.

“[Also], the Copenhagen Summit [on climate change] has turned out to be a defining moment for India-China relationship. Both played a stellar role in Copenhagen. And perhaps that would pave the way for more such [bilateral] initiatives on global issues.”

Hailing Russia as India's “time-tested friend,” Mr. Krishna cited defence and space as collaborative areas of much promise.

About the possibility of replication of the trilateral framework of Russia-India-China dialogue for interaction among New Delhi, Beijing and Washington, he said the idea was still “speculative.”

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The convoluted nature of the reponse of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to a question on the importance of the passage of the Bill on civil nuclear liability for implementing the India-U.S. nuclear deal tells the story of the government's despair in the matter. Clearly the government did not anticipate so much opposition in the country to the proposed Bill. Moreover the government has now to contend with the unfavourable stand of the US on the issue of reprocessing the spent fuel of nuclear reactors supplied by US companies. Interestingly Mr.Krishna's comment on this matter was that it is very complex and highly technical and yet the government will be able to overcome the problems on this count. Unfounded optimism this,shall we say? Well there was more to come. The report says that Mr. Krishna sounded hopeful on India being able to access David Headley for interrogation in connection with the 26/11 attacks when to the world outside the government circle it looks almost impossible. Over and above the illogical assessments and conclusions as above, the minister said on record that the the strategic dialogue between the U.S. and Pakistan was nothing surprising since according to him the track record of the US (a declared friend of India)and Pakistan (a foe by implication) was one of seeing eye-to-eye on a large number of issues. The media these days perhaps has a knack of making ministers say things which they shouldn't be saying!

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Mar 26, 2010 at 09:59 IST
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