|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
India should be ready to accept amendments to N-deal: Rice
Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | May 03, 2006 12:02 IST
Supporting the early passage of the Indo-US nuclear deal in the Congress, the Bush administration has said New Delhi must be prepared to accept "amendments" to the agreement which are within the "spirit" of the July 2005 accord signed between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W Bush.
This was conveyed to a delelgation of visiting Indian parliamentarians by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a 30-minute meeting at the state department in Washington.
"She did not say basic (changes to the framework) but that India should be prepared, should be ready for some amendments which will be within the framework...but it depends how Congress interprets it," Rajya Sabha member of Parliament Shahid Siddique, who was a part of the delegation, said.
"Our main concern was the amendments we are expecting and we are concerned about the amendments. She said... if the amendments are within the spirit of the July 18 agreement then we should be prepared for it. The message was that there are going to be amendments and we should be ready for it," he said.
The MP said it was generally recognised that time was of essence and that the civilian nuclear energy agreement should be formalised at the earliest.
"She said what is important now is the sequence, that how fast you are able to engage Interanational Atomic Energy Agency... because if that is not clear then the Congress will ask what are we getting in to. That is the message from her," he added.
Siddique said that Rice was optimistic that the administration will be able to deliver and that the timeframe was perhaps a couple of months. Rice told the Indian MPs that it will be difficult in Congress unless members are clear about what they are going to do with the IAEA.
"She (meaning Rice) said it is going to be difficult for us... it has to be very obvious to what they are getting into. They feel that unless that is there (India's agreement with the IAEA) in place they won't be able to get the acceptance of the Congress," Siddique said.
The Indian parliamentarian stressed that Rice did not say that Congress was looking for "basic" changes to the agreed framework, but that New Delhi should be ready to accept some changes.
"Our concern is that if it does not go through now, then it will be difficult to get it through after summer recess... we feel that it should be done before the summer recess," Siddique said.
"We are a bit worried about the amendments which are being suggested. It is not very clear as to what the amendments are going to be ... getting us into the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty through the backdoor is also of concern to us because it will not be acceptable to Parliament in India, especially to the Left," he said.
On asked what transpired in the meeting between Rice and the visiting parliamentary delegation, a senior state department official said, "They discussed our strategic partnership -- the US-India civil nuclear cooperation initiative, our economic and energy dialogue."