Event ReportsPublished on Sep 18, 2006
Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi, hosted a talk on Monday, September 18, 2006, by Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott on "US Foreign Policy in the Presidential Election Season".
Nuclear deal will sail through: Talbott
Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi, hosted a talk on Monday, September 18, 2006, by Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott on ":US Foreign Policy in the Presidential Election Season". Mr Talbott, a former Deputy Secretary of State in the Clinton Administration, spoke at length on the India-US nuclear deal, the India-Pakistan peace process and probable candidates in the next presidential election scheduled for 2008.

ORF is partnering with Brookings on several important research projects, including I-Cube Model, a state-of-art model for analyzing energy and environment policies during the high growth trajectory of the Indian economy.

Earlier in the day, Mr Talbott spoke to the ORF Faculty on "How Think Tanks Impact Public Policy". ORF Chairman RK Mishra, Ambassador M Rasgotra, Advisor to Chairman, and Prof. SD Muni, Advisor to Chairman, attended the hour-long interaction besides the faculty and staff members. 

< class="bodytext">  Addressing a distinguished gathering at the ORF auditorium in the afternoon, Mr Talbott, who heads the 90-year old Brookings Institution, said: ``The nuclear deal is going to sail through the US Congressional process. I will be astonished if it doesn't go to the President's desk this year sometime during the lame duck session, between the congressional elections and the end of the year." 

He, however, cautioned about the possibilities of ``misinterpreting`` the legislative process in the US. For instance, he pointed out there might be "killer amendments" in the Senate version of the bill. These could relate to the ``reporting responsibilities'' of the American President. ``None of this constitutes an infringement of India's sovereignty. It will be the responsibility of the President. The onus is not on India," he said.

Mr Talbott said the real hurdle would be at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) where China was likely to question the exceptional concession being given to India. ``They could ask why this exception to the NPT should be country-specific," he said. 

Clarifying his earlier remarks that the deal was a good day for Indo-US relations but a bad day for non-proliferation, he said the Indian record in nuclear technology had so far been responsible and this exception was completely justified. In return, he expected that India and the US should cooperate to manage this precarious situation on NPT after the deal gets the final nod. He, however, felt that the US administration should have driven a harder bargain with India, especially on the issue of capping production of fissile material.

The House of Representatives has already passed their version of the nuclear deal in July. The Senate has to now approve its bill, but a date is yet to be announced. The mid-term Congressional elections will be held in November.

Welcoming the Indo-Pak agreement on setting up a joint-mechanism to fight terror as a "hopeful moment", Mr Talbott termed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's initiative as statesman-like. He said the Indo-Pak agreement to set up the joint-mechanism to fight terrorism reached after a meeting between Dr Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf reflected Dr Singh#146;s "personal statesmanship" and "wisdom". 

Speaking about foreign policy challenges before the U.S., he said Washington was in a "terrible fix" on Iraq. Pointing to recent statements by Mr. Bush that the US would stay the course in Iraq, the former State Department official said the "facts were not cooperating" with the President. Mr. Talbott claimed that one of the "casualties" of the Iraq war was British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was recently forced to set a date for departing from his job.
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