Seoul: In the backdrop of Left parties’ opposition to growing Indo-US ties, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on 17 September suggested any “divergence” of views in the country would not hamper development of bilateral relations and defended the nuclear deal as a “landmark” agreement.
On a three-day visit here since 16 September, he made it clear that the increasing cooperation between India and the US was not aimed at containing China.
“I do not visualize any constraint in bilateral relations (between India and the US). It is expanding very fast,” Mukherjee said here while interacting with diplomats and intellectuals here after delivering a lecture on ‘India’s Look East Policy´.
He was asked whether he apprehended constraints in growth of Indo-US relations because of divergence of views.
The minister said India has had good relations with the US since beginning but “now it has assumed new dimension, new angularities”.
Referring to the civil nuclear cooperation “we are trying to have”, he said “if it finally materializes, it will be a symbol of landmark agreement of bilateral cooperation in multilateral framework.”
Elaborating, he said though the Indo-US nuclear agreement is a bilateral pact, “its implications will be involvement of large number of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) countries and India-specific agreement with IAEA.”
“I feel in any individual relationship, there may be certain divergence of views in certain areas, in certain aspects in particular context but it is not necessary that these will stand in the way of overall expansion of relationship with any country,“ Mukherjee said.
The comments assume significance as the government’s Left allies are opposing growing engagement with the US, particularly in the context of civil nuclear deal.
Mukherjee said the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement will have international ramifications as the 45-nation NSG would have to accept it to enable flow of nuclear fuel and technology to India.
He said the civil nuclear deal will be implemented in consonance with the India-specific Safeguards Agreement with IAEA.
“Our policy is every country should have the right to pursue civil nuclear programme for peaceful purposes, not for military purposes. So if any country has any international obligation under any international treaty, the civil nuclear cooperation should be in consonance with that treaty,” he said.
Asked about apprehensions that the US was strengthening its relations with India to “counter-balance” China, Mukherjee said “We do not believe in containing any country. Therefore, there is no question of the cooperation between India and the US to act as some sort of containment of any country, including China.”
The External Affairs Minister said India’s relations with the US are independent of its ties with China.