Tough negotiations will see n-deal through: Manmohan


New Delhi : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said there were some "difficulties" in signing the 123 pact with the US to pave the way for civil nuclear commerce but added that some "tough negotiations" should see the deal through.

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"It will take some time," the prime minister told journalists on board his special aircraft Air India One during his return from the G8 Outreach Summit in Heiligendamm Saturday, after meeting with US President George W. Bush on the margins.

"I think some tough negotiations will be required before we see the light at the end of the tunnel," he said, but also added that the atmospherics of his talks with Bush were positive.

"He has very a positive feeling towards India. I think he feels certain sense of ownership of the nuclear deal. Therefore, I am quite, I think, satisfied with my meeting," the prime minister said.

"There are some difficulties but I think both of us expressed determination to overcome them. The president is quite appreciative of our concerns. Beyond that I wouldn't want to say more than that."

The prime minister said that there were several ideas being exchanged by the two sides, hinting at India's proposal to set up a dedicated facility to safeguard spent nuclear fuel that can come under the scrutiny of an external agency.

"All we are interested in is the substance of the 123 agreement should confirm with what I have told the people of India and what I have told parliament," he said, adding because of that attack from opposition did not bother him.

The prime minister said at a a parallel level, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan also met with his US counterpart Stephen Hadley at the same venue, seeking to remove the irritants holding up the path-breaking agreement.

"Nuclear energy happens to be a clean energy. If we get access to international cooperation and international technology, I think that will only enhance our development objectives."

He also said the primary effort was to end India's nuclear isolation and at the same time preserve integrity of the country's strategic programme and find new pathways for cooperation fore nuclear energy.

The deal has been elusive since India is demanding the right to be given prior approval for reprocessing spent atomic fuel to run its fast-breeder programme, which Washington is not yet ready to accede to, saying the issue will arise at a much later date.

New Delhi is hoping the new proposal on safeguards is able to break the impasse.

Officials said India also wants to preserve its strategic autonomy and is unwilling to go beyond a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing, while the US wants to terminate the agreement should India conduct a nuclear test.