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India Puts US Nuclear Deal on Hold During Panel Review


India's Congress Party-led government says it has frozen the nuclear deal with the United States while an official committee reviews objections raised by left-wing politicians.

Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Thursday evening that officials will consider the committee's findings before implementing the agreement.

Following talks between government leaders and their communist coalition partners, Mukherjee said the committee will also examine how the nuclear agreement affects India's foreign and security cooperation.

On Wednesday, left-wing parties asked the government to halt negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency. International nuclear agencies and the U.S. Congress must approve the deal for it to go forward.

Although Indian lawmakers do not have the authority to block the deal, the withdrawal of the leftist parties' support from the ruling coalition might cause it to collapse and lead to early elections.

India's leftist parties say the deal undermines the country's sovereignty and its right to conduct nuclear tests.

They also object to strategic cooperation with the United States and plan to protest joint naval exercises to be held next week.

The landmark deal would give India access to long-denied nuclear technology to build nuclear power plants in the energy-starved country.

India is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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