Indian officials say they hope to wrap up talks on a landmark civilian nuclear agreement, without succumbing to deadline pressure from the United States.
Foreign Secretary Shivshanker Menon says India will follow its own timeframe to implement the deal, and that the government hopes to conclude negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as soon as possible.
Menon made the comments to reporters Thursday after talks in New Delhi with U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce Mario Mancuso.The remarks come a day after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Indian officials time is running out on the nuclear deal. The agreement would allow India to receive nuclear fuel and technology from the U.S. in exchange for submitting some of its civilian nuclear plants to United Nations monitoring.India needs approval from the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group before being able to go forward with the deal.
Last week, a delegation of U.S. lawmakers said the agreement must be concluded within the next few weeks in order to win final approval in Congress. Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said if the agreement is not ratified by Congress in July, it likely will be renegotiated by the next U.S. president.
India's communists have opposed the nuclear deal, saying it would undermine the country's independent foreign policy and nuclear weapons program.