The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nuke deal final, PM tells Left
- Singh visit to Bush ranch is on

New Delhi, Aug. 8: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made it clear to Left leaders that the Indo-US nuclear deal would not be renegotiated.

The 123 Agreement that will operationalise the pact was ratified by the cabinet and, therefore, there was no question of renegotiating it, Singh told Prakash Karat and A.B. Bardhan last night, shortly after the CPM, the CPI and their allies rejected the deal.

The Prime Minister, who was attending a farewell dinner for former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat when the Left declared its rejection, was said to be “anguished” about the repeated insinuation that he was “pro-US”, sources said.

But he was not in a mood to be “cowed down” or persuaded to make a “concession” or “conciliatory gesture” towards the CPM and the CPI.

The Prime Minister would go ahead with his visit to President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, the sources said.

Singh was scheduled to be in Bush’s ranch in end-August, but the trip had to be postponed because Parliament will be in session till September 14. As soon as mutually convenient dates are fixed, he will leave for the US.

After the Left’s criticism, it was believed Singh might have second thoughts on accepting Bush’s invite for what was seen as an “intimate” visit to his private sanctuary, periodically opened for a select club of world leaders.

“What does the nuclear deal have to do with a bilateral US visit' Foreign policy can’t be pursued through periodic threats and pressures,” said a source.

The Prime Minister’s big “concession” — though sources close to him were unwilling to describe it as one — to the Left and the NDA is a statement on the deal he will make in Parliament on August 13.

Sources said he would reiterate the points he had made on the floor of the House since 2005.

On his return from Shekhawat’s farewell dinner, Singh was briefed about the Left’s response after which he phoned Karat and Bardhan.

It is understood that while the two allies assured him there was no threat to his government, they were non-committal about the extent to which they would pursue the issue in Parliament and outside.

Congress sources said once they were done with the vice-presidential election — voting is on Friday — “crisis managers” Ahmed Patel and Pranab Mukherjee, too, would start speaking to Karat and Bardhan.

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