Indian foreign minister to visit US amid nuclear deadlock
( AFP )- India's foreign minister will visit Washington next week for talks with US leaders, a statement said Saturday, amid uncertainty over a nuclear deal between the two countries.
Pranab Mukherjee will "review of all aspects of the India-US bilateral relationship" during talks with his counterpart Condolezza Rice, the Indian foreign ministry statement said, without giving further details.
During his stay between March 24-25, Mukherjee is also "scheduled to call on the US President, George W. Bush, and meet the US National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley," the statement added.
Mukherjee's visit comes amid a deadlock between his government and its Communist allies over implementing a civilian nuclear deal which seeks to bring India into the global nuclear civilian market and overhaul its US ties.
The government says the pact is needed to provide new fuel sources to keep the energy-hungry nation's economy growing, but the communists say the deal will ally the country too closely with Washington.
New Delhi also needs to work out a pact with the UN's atomic watchdog besides securing approval of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which regulates global civilian nuclear trade, before it can begin buying nuclear reactors and fuel.
US officials have stepped up pressure on New Delhi in recent weeks to move forward so the bilateral accord can get final approval from the US Congress, where it has bipartisan support, before the November US presidential polls.
In a speech to parliament earlier this month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he would try to build a consensus on the deal but so far has had no success with communist leaders.