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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 17:16 GMT
India nuclear deal 'not yet dead'
Manmohan Singh
Mr Singh has described the deal with the US as "historic"
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said he believes a controversial civilian nuclear deal with the US is not dead, despite being delayed.

Earlier, the US treasury secretary told reporters in Delhi he was optimistic the agreement would be implemented.

There have been growing signs Mr Singh may shelve the deal after left-wing allies opposed to it threatened to stop supporting his governing coalition.

Such a move could trigger early general elections in India.

The deal has been hailed by both governments as a landmark in US-India relations.

It would give India access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel even though it has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In return, India will open its civilian reactors to inspection.

Left-wing parties fear the accord would give the US too much influence over India's foreign policy.

'Consensus'

Recent weeks have seen rounds of haggling between India's governing coalition and left-wing parties which support it in parliament.

"There is some delay but we have not reached the end of the road," Mr Singh told a joint news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Indian capital.

Bhabha reactor in India
India would be able to use US technology in its nuclear facilities

"The agreement we have signed with the US is an honourable deal, good for India, good for the world and good for non-proliferation," Mr Singh said.

Acknowledging that the agreement had been jeopardised by the communists, the prime minister said that India remained "committed to see that this process is carried forward".

"Already there are efforts to evolve a consensus," he said.

Earlier US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told reporters he thought the deal would be seen positively by global business.

"I am an optimist. I think good ideas automatically get done," he said.

Left-wing parties have warned that they will withdraw support for Mr Singh's governing coalition if the nuclear deal goes ahead.

That could lead to early elections and, possibly, the fall of the Congress-led government.

Move forward

Mr Singh has said that if the deal does not come through, he would be disappointed - but he could live with it.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
We continue to support moving forward with the agreement
Condoleezza Rice

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also stressed that she wants to move forward on the nuclear deal with India.

Ms Rice spoke to Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday and told him that the US continued to support the agreement, according to US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

Supporters of the deal hope that it would give India much-needed uranium to power its reactors so that they are less reliant on coal.

But critics say nuclear energy will contribute only a small part of India's power requirements for the next 25 years. They argue that even if the deal goes ahead, coal will not be replaced.

Several rounds of talks between India's Congress-led ruling coalition and communist allies over the nuclear deal have ended with no indication of progress.

The two sides will resume talks on 16 November.

The administration of US President George W Bush is keen for the deal to be completed before next year's presidential elections.


SEE ALSO
Is India-US nuclear accord dead?
16 Oct 07 |  South Asia
India PM stresses nuclear gains
31 Aug 07 |  South Asia
Indian cabinet backs nuclear deal
25 Jul 07 |  South Asia
Doubts over US-India nuclear deal
18 May 07 |  South Asia
Mid-terms fallout on nuclear deal
09 Nov 06 |  South Asia
US panel backs India nuclear deal
28 Jun 06 |  South Asia

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