( dpa )- US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday, vowing to move forward on a nuclear cooperation deal despite opposition within India's governing coalition that has threatened to undo the agreement.
"We will continue to work on that agreement," Rice said after meeting with Mukherjee .
India has been negotiating with the UN nuclear monitoring agency, the IAEA, for a nuclear safeguarding deal that would allow inspections of India's civilian nuclear programme , which is required under the agreement with Washington.
But leftist allies in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's governing coalition have voiced reservations, arguing it undermines Indian sovereignty.
US President George W Bush and Singh signed the agreement that allows the United States to sell nuclear technology and material to India to generate atomic energy in 2006, and the two sides have since worked through complex negotiations to implement the agreement.
The US Congress has warned that the deal must be finalized by the end of July to win congressional approval before Bush leaves office in January - leading to speculation the controversial agreement was in jeopardy of dying.
Bush and Singh have touted the agreement as the centerpiece of strong bilateral ties that have emerged under the Bush administration after decades of icy relations.
Mukherjee said India was close to wrapping up negotiations with the IAEA and that his government was in talks with the members of the country's governing coalition.
"In that stage, we have correctly engaged with various political parties who are supporters of our coalition government in India, and the discussion is still going on," Mukherjee said.
The United States and India must also complete a waiver with the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group to allow the selling of technology to a country which has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Rice and Mukherjee planned more detailed discussions of the nuclear deal when they meet again Monday night over dinner, and the latter is also expected to meet with Bush and members of his national security team Monday.
Rice and Mukherjee also discussed the crackdown against dissidents and protestors in Myanmar and Tibet, and Rice urged the the Chinese to refrain from violence and hold talks with Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
"We believe that the Dalai Lama could play a very favorable role," Rice said.
Tibet erupted into violent clashes during the last two weeks between authorities and protestors seeking an end to Chinese rule. Exiled Tibetan leaders in New Dehli said Monday more than 100 demonstrators have died.