16 September 2008
Don’t sign 123, says former Indian envoy to U.S.
New Delhi: Lalit Mansingh, former Foreign Secretary and former Ambassador to the United States, has said India should not sign the ‘123 Agreement’ on bilateral nuclear cooperation if Washington insists on going back on its fuel supply assurances.
His remarks were made on CNBC’s ‘India Tonight’ programme on Monday night.
Asked by the anchor, Karan Thapar, how he would respond to the manner in which America has gone back on its fuel supply assurances if he was foreign secretary, Mr. Mansingh said he would have cancelled Dr. Manmohan Singh’s forthcoming visit to Washington.
Describing the government of India’s reaction to date as mild, Mr. Mansingh said that now that President Bush had sent a ‘determination’ to Congress, the issue could not be considered “internal” to the United States. “It affects the legality of the treaty. Therefore, I felt that may be our response should have been stronger — I would have advised the Prime Minister not to go to Washington to sign the Agreement — if that is [their] interpretation, that it is not legally binding,” he said. “It would diminish the Prime Minster’s credibility if he goes all the way to Washington. I think he should meet Bush when he is at the UNGA and have a bilateral meeting. But to go to all the way to Washington to sign a treaty which already is declared as non-binding won’t be worthy of the Prime Minister’s visit.”