The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Deal delayed but not end of the road: PM

New Delhi, Oct. 30: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh believes the last word has not been said on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

“There is some delay but we have not reached the end of the road,” Singh told a joint news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Hyderabad House this evening.

The Prime Minister was asked if the deal’s failure would impact India’s stature. “Efforts are on to broadbase a national consensus. We are a democracy.… I would not like to speculate on the consequences of the delay,” he said before stressing that he did not think the deal was dead.

The comments, which followed a telephone call by US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee last night and simultaneous lobbying by US ambassador David Mulford with the BJP leadership, suggest Singh is determined not to give up without a fight.

“Nothing is over till it is over,” a government leader said here today.

The Prime Minister admitted the deal had “run into some problems which we are trying to resolve”.

Later this evening, the foreign minister, who is also the convener of the UPA-Left nuclear panel, spoke to CPM leader Sitaram Yechury.

At the news conference, Merkel said in reply to a question by a German journalist: “The Prime Minister explained to me the internal situation in India to ensure maximum transparency. One would hope that further progress would be made at the IAEA… if there is progress at the IAEA, then India and Germany can think of civil nuclear cooperation.”

Analysts said Merkel was in India not only as German Chancellor but also as president of the Group of Eight, implying that her support for the nuclear deal reflected the backing of the G8.

Earlier, US treasury secretary Henry Paulson had said Indian approval of the deal would be seen positively by global business. He would not be drawn into commenting on whether business would view it negatively if the deal did not go ahead.

Paulson today said the US valued the fact that India was a vibrant democracy and said democratic processes needed to work for the country to come to a conclusion on the deal.

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