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Left vets Singh reply

New Delhi, Aug. 4: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is taking no chances with his Left allies on the reply he will give in Parliament on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Defence minister Pranab Mukherjee today sent the first draft to the Left parties, which met at the CPM headquarters.

After rejecting the Left’s proposal for a resolution or a declaration expressing the “sense of the House”, the Congress-led government has settled for a short-duration discussion. This will be followed by the Prime Minister’s reply.

In his reply, Singh tries to scotch the Left’s fears about his government bowing to US pressure. He has spelt out the parameters within which the government has to conduct the negotiations. (See chart)

“I would like to categorically state we would not accept any provisions that go beyond the parameters of the July joint statement (with President George W. Bush) and the separation plan agreed between India and the United States.”

The CPM’s stand is that the government can change its mind if the final US legislation imposes extra conditions.

The reply takes care of this concern. “The government will not shy away from drawing the necessary conclusions… if in their final form the US bill or the adopted Nuclear Suppliers’ Group guidelines impose extraneous conditions.”

The CPM has cited nine points of departure from the July nuclear agreement in the US Senate and House of Representatives drafts.

Singh’s reply lists seven parameters and all conform to the Left’s demands. “Our foreign policy decisions are solely determined by our national interests and are not, nor will ever be, subject to extraneous pressures,” he says, dispelling fears that the US will secure India’s participation in efforts to isolate and sanction Iran.

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