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Indo-US N-deal not on backburner, assures US official

June 06, 2009 11:06 IST

A key aide to United States President Barack Obama has dismissed reports that the new US administration has kept the nuclear deal with India on the backburner.

Bruce Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency official who co-chaired an inter-agency committee which formulated Obama's Af-Pak policy, also did not see Robert Einhorn's recent appointment, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's special adviser on non-proliferation issues, as an impediment in the implementation of the nuclear deal, signed during the George W Bush era.

"Senator Obama voted for the India-US civil nuclear agreement last fall and he has made clear that he wants to see it implemented. At the same time, President Obama has also made it clear that arms control and non-proliferation are back on the American agenda," Riedel said.

On the appointment of Einhorn, which has caused a flutter in India because of his strong views against the Indo-US nuclear deal, Riedel said, "Einhorn is a very qualified American diplomat and an expert on nuclear issues."

"I think, you would see, early on in this administration, the attempt to get the United States Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and I think you would see in time that the United States would once again be urging all countries around the world to sign onto CTBT," he said.

Advocating the need for India and Pakistan to sign CTBT, Riedel said that it was now time to support an international ban on all nuclear testing. "I favour both India and Pakistan signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. India and Pakistan do not need to test their nuclear weapons. They have done that already. It is now time to support an international ban on all nuclear testing," he said.

He expressed hope that India would take another look at the matter and recognise that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is in India's national security interest.

Lalit K Jha in Washington