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India's PM dares left to withdraw support over US nuclear deal

by Staff Writers
New Delhi (AFP) Aug 11, 2007
India's prime minister has dared the government's communist allies to withdraw their support if they are unhappy with the landmark Indo-US nuclear technology deal, a report said Saturday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh insisted in an interview published in the Calcutta-based Telegraph newspaper that the civilian nuclear agreement with Washington will not be renegotiated.

"I told them it is not possible to renegotiate the deal. It is an honourable deal, the cabinet has approved it, we cannot go back on it," Singh was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

"I told them to do whatever they want to do, if they want to withdraw support (for the Congress coalition government), so be it," Singh said.

Communist parties prop up the ruling coalition in parliament.

Singh, who oversaw two years of talks that led to the historic pact seen as the centrepiece of India's new warmer ties with the United States, is expected to defend the deal in parliament on Monday.

The prime minister's unequivocal "no" to the left parties' call not to make the complex "123 agreement" operational came after the communists said they were "unable to accept the agreement."

The accord, which covers civil nuclear technology and seeks to bring India into the loop of global atomic commerce after a gap of three decades, has also been rejected by India's main opposition Hindu nationalists.

The deal clinched in Washington last month allows India to buy civilian nuclear technology while possessing nuclear weapons despite not adhering to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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