Left climbs-down on Indo-US nuclear pact, allows safeguards talks with IAEA

Mumbai: The Left Parties, amidst growing problems in West Bengal due to the turmoil in Nandigram and the dubious the Rizwanaur murder case, today softened its stand on Indo-US nuke deal and agreed to allow the central government to initiate negotiations on safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The change of stand came after external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee met Left leaders. The development is a crucial breakthrough as the Left had been maintaining all along that they would not allow the government to proceed on the nuke deal at any cost.

The Left Parties are likely to make a formal announcement to this effect on 16 November after the sixth round of meeting of the UPA-Left coordination committee on the indo-US nuclear deal.

However, Left leaders said they were firm that the final draft would have to be cleared by them before sending it to the IAEA board of governors.

CPI leader A B Bardhan had yesterday indicated to a news channel that it will let the government proceed with talks with IAEA. CPM general secretary Prakash Karat had also indicated a softening of stand when he said the logjam over the Indo-US nuclear deal would be "sorted out soon".

The change of heart seems to have come after the Left''s Sunday luncheon with prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

India, meanwhile, had proposed opening nuclear cooperation dialogue with Russia. But Russia seems to have refused to begin talks on setting up new nuclear reactors unless India got clearance from NSG and IAEA.