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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 October 2007, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
India nuclear talks are deferred
CPM demonstration against the nuclear deal
There have been isolated protests against the nuclear deal
India's government and its communist allies have agreed to hold more talks on a nuclear deal which is threatening the future of the coalition.

The two sides made little progress and will meet again later this month.

Correspondents say their decision means that that they have pulled back from the brink of triggering snap elections over the deal with the US.

The communists are opposed to the deal, which they say gives the US undue influence in Indian affairs.

Under the deal, energy-hungry India will get civilian nuclear technology and fuel despite not signing a non-proliferation treaty.


The stand-off is the worst to affect the government since it came to power in 2004. The communists provide key support to the Congress-led government.

"Where is the crisis? There is no crisis. We are meeting again on 22 October," AB Bardhan, chief of the Communist Party of India - one of the main left parties - said after Tuesday's talks.

Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav said after the negotiations that the left parties would "not let the government fall" even though correspondents say that the discussions were often hot-tempered.

The meeting is taking place during a visit to India by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Mohamed ElBaradei.

The government is due to begin key negotiations with the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group for the deal to be carried through.

But the communists have made it clear that they do not want these discussions to take place, prompting speculation that the stand-off could lead to early elections.

Matters came to a head over the weekend when Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi told a public meeting that the opponents of the nuclear deal were "enemies of development".

'No concern'

Reacting to the statement, the communist parties said that India need not surrender its vital interests to America.

Later Ms Gandhi told reporters in Delhi that there was no "concern" about the prospects of elections.

"If there are elections you face it," she said.

Mr ElBaradei is in India to attend an energy conference.

He is also expected to meet PM Manmohan Singh and foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee during the visit.

The nuclear deal is at the centre of a strategic shift in ties between India and the United States and is seen by both governments as a major achievement.

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