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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 October 2007, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
India nuclear deal 'efforts on'
Manmohan Singh
Mr Singh has described the deal with the US as "historic"
Indian PM Manmohan Singh has said that efforts are still on to persuade the government's communist allies on the controversial nuclear deal with the US.

Mr Singh told US President George W Bush recently that he was having difficulty implementing the deal.

It was the first clear sign India may shelve the deal.

Differences between the Congress-led government and its allies over the deal has led to talk of early elections.

The Congress party's communist allies say the deal, which would allow India access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel, gives the US leverage on India's foreign policy.

'Meaningful consensus'

After many weeks during which the government insisted it would press ahead with the deal, Mr Singh's conversation with Mr Bush on Monday pointed to the government backtracking in the face of opposition.

But, on Thursday, Mr Singh told reporters on the sidelines of an official trip of Africa: "The process of evolving a meaningful consensus [on the nuclear deal] is still on."

A Congress party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed also told reporters in Delhi that the deal had not been put off.

"The deal is not in cold storage and is very much in the offing," Mr Ahmed was quoted as telling reporters by The Indian Express newspaper.

The process of evolving a meaningful consensus is still on
Manmohan Singh

The Congress party and its allies are meeting again on Monday to discuss the deal.

Mr Singh called Mr Bush on Monday and told him that "certain difficulties have arisen with respect to the operationalisation of the India-US civil nuclear co-operation agreement".

He said last week that the nuclear agreement was "an honourable deal that is good for India and good for the world".

He said, however, that if the deal did not come through, he would be disappointed - but he could live with it.

The deal has also been criticised by many outside India.

Under the landmark nuclear deal, India is allowed to reprocess spent nuclear fuel - something that is seen as a major concession and opposed by some members of the US Congress as India has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

US state department spokesman Tom Casey said his government wanted the deal done as quickly as possible, "but that's within the context of what each country has to do and has to accomplish".

But he added: "I'm not going to try and tell the Indians how to manage their own internal processes."

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