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US tried to woo BJP on N-deal: WikiLeaks

New Delhi: The United States Of America had tried to woo the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the cost of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal issue.

According to the latest WikiLeaks cables reported by ‘The Hindu’ on Friday, Washington was so keen on a nuclear deal with India that its then ambassador David C Mulford worked to “put Sonia Gandhi in a box” by meeting and trying to woo the then leader of opposition LK Advani. However, it appears from the cable that Advani turned down the US proposal.

“The Ambassador on May 8 (2008) again urged BJP leader LK Advani in a private meeting to exhibit statesmanship and either back the nuclear deal or withdraw opposition to it. Advani did not alter his argument, but I sensed that he is much less comfortable than he was a month ago. Advani informed the Ambassador that he probably will not make a visit to Washington in the foreseeable future and the Embassy should not pursue any meetings that he or his staff had previously requested,” the WikiLeaks cable said.

According to the cable the then foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon told the Mulford on May 14 that Advani had told him that he was grateful for the US Ambassador’s outreach, and he told Menon, “I’m glad he came.”

Advani was wooed as the US believed that if the BJP changed or softened its position on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, he would be assured of a positive reception among Indian Americans when he visited India.

The USA even tried to break the UPA’s coalition with the Left parties.

The Indo-US civil nuclear deal had also faced serious chances of being derailed. because of India’s reluctance to take a tough stand on Iran.

Leaked cables dated September 2005 reveal that Mulford had complained to then US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice about the unhelpful attitude of some senior Indian officials.

Mulford said that he found Indian officials reluctant to acknowledge that Iran could jeopardise Indo-US nuclear initiative. Mulford reportedly told Rice to tell Singh that India’s failure to take “difficult steps” on Iran could derails the civil nuclear agreement with the US on the eve of the Indian Prime Minister’s meeting with the then US president George W Bush and Rice in New York in September 2005.

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