Debate in India over N-deal will have to play its course: US

Debate in India over N-deal will have to play its course: US

Washington: The debate and discussions in India over the civilian nuclear deal will have to play its course and it is best that this process takes place without the involvement of third parties, especially the US, a senior American official has said.

Emphasising that the Indo-US deal is in the interest of both the countries, Richard Boucher, the top official in charge of South and Central Asia, hoped that “they will go through this (debate) and continue towards implementation".

“The whole goal here is Indian kids can turn on the lights to do their homework... the sooner we get there, the sooner they are going to be able to turn on their lights."

“The debate in Indian Parliament and between the Indian political parties is one that probably best proceeds without the involvement of outsiders and without comment from the American Assistant Secretary of State," he said in an interactive session at the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University here.

“The deal is a deal. We have been very public and transparent about how this was done and the understandings that have been reached. They are going to have this work this in the politics of India...We will see how this plays out."

Boucher said there are a few more “hurdles down the road" and a key one is India’s negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency on a safeguards agreement.

“But it is important to remember that India already has safeguard agreements with the IAEA on a number of its civilian nuclear facilities...There are examples and models. So we don’t think that it is an enormously difficult negotiation for them," he maintained.

The senior official said a lot of “good work" has been done on both sides to bring this agreement to a fruition and that the deal has been carefully negotiated to meet “our needs and their needs".

“We got a good agreement for both of us," Boucher said reminding the audience that in a democracy like India there is bound to be debate and discussion.

“Just as we have gone through our debate and discussion in our Congress and will have to do some more, they have to do in their Parliament as well...They are going to have to go through that... We have come a long way because fundamentally this is a good deal," the official said.

“We have to believe, and I predict, that they will go through this and continue towards implementation."

In his opening remarks, Boucher said the US sees in India a “natural partner in almost every area" and that it is an “exploding" partnership based on the peoples.

“The US-India relationship is led by people. The governments are still in the process of catching up...The people-to-people relationship is what is going to make the difference," the senior official said.

Asked about India’s role in “managing" of the rise of China, he said, “We don’t pick. We can have good relations with China; we can have good relations with India; India can have good relations with China; and China with India".

“I think it is trying to work with both of them in areas they have capabilities, contributions, interests. I see it as maintaining the best possible relations with both," he said making the point that when it comes to India, it has enormous amounts to contribute, globally, regionally and economically.

“In the long run, we need to have good and solid relations," with both India and China, he maintained.