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Indian Government, Communists Meet on US Nuclear Deal


Political tensions eased as India's ruling Congress party and its communist allies met Tuesday to discuss a controversial nuclear energy deal with the United States.

The two sides did not come to an agreement, but vowed to meet again on October 22 to discuss the communists' opposition to India participating in the deal.

The pact reverses 30 years of a U.S. ban on nuclear trade with India. The agreement gives India access to American nuclear fuel and equipment to help it meet soaring energy needs, even though India has tested nuclear weapons and has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

India's Communist Party says the deal would violate India's sovereignty and align the government too closely with United States.

The communists have been threatening to pull their support for the Congress led-government and force new elections if India allows the United Nations to place some of the country's nuclear plants under U.N. safeguards.

Tuesday's talks coincided with a visit to India by the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohammed El Baradei is touring a nuclear research facility, speaking at an energy conference, and meeting with Indian nuclear officials.

Both El Baradei and Indian leaders call the visit routine, but the nuclear watchdog chief says the IAEA is ready to discuss finalizing the U.S.-India nuclear deal whenever the Indian government is willing to do so.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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