US envoy hopeful on India n-deal, mum on Pakistan pact

New Delhi: Unfazed by political opposition in India to the civil nuclear liability bill, the US Monday said it was “optimistic and positive” about completing the nuclear deal with India but kept quiet on speculation about a similar accord with Pakistan.

“I am working full time on implementing the nuclear deal,” US Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer told reporters here.

“We are optimistic and positive that we are going to complete this in the months ahead,” the US envoy said.

Describing the nuclear deal as a “win-win situation”, Roemer stressed that implementing the agreement would be beneficial to both countries.

“We have seen great progress in the last few weeks and this is the story of the United States and India in a win-win situation,” he said.

“A new date of the US-India partnership where we create jobs in America and where India gets access to clean energy.”

The US envoy, however, declined to comment on media reports suggesting that the US was thinking of offering a similar deal to Pakistan.

So far, the US has not conceded Pakistan’s repeated demand for a civil nuclear nuclear deal. But, in an indication of a possible policy shift, US Ambassador to Islamabad Anne Patterson said in a recent interview to a journal that the two sides were going to have “working level talks” on the subject during the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue on March 24.

The US’ optimism about the nuclear deal with India comes amid reports that the two sides are likely to announce a pact on reprocessing spent fuel in a day or two.

Besides the reprocessing pact, India is required to pass a civil nuclear liability legislation under the 123 bilateral agreement to operationalise the nuclear deal.

Last week, the government deferred the tabling of the civil nuclear liability bill in parliament due to fierce opposition from the opposition parties, which are asking that the compensation amount be scaled up from the Rs.500 crore (nearly $100 million) provided for in the legislation to take care of victims in case of a nuclear accident.

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