When communists say letís talk
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The 123 text that will help to 'operationalise' the July 18, 2005 civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between India and the US is on hold. The pause button has been hit by the UPA to address the strong objections voiced by the Left, as per the carefully worded statement, "it has been decided to constitute a committee to go into these issues".
The future of the deal now rests on the talks that will be conducted with the Left leadership, as represented in Delhi, and here the historical experience of China may be instructive. The current intra-UPA talks to be convened by that man for all seasons, Pranab Mukherjee, appear to be open-ended, with no specific time-line. In the absence of a stipulated deadline, there is every possibility that these talks can get prolonged inconclusively ó and from the assertive statements made by Left leaders, a compromise appears elusive. While there is no doubt that this deal must be taken forward in a transparent manner with the support of the Indian people and their representatives in Parliament, this kind of delay may well be detrimental to the larger national interest.
It may be recalled that the Korean war led to the commencement of the famous Panmunjeom talks on July 10, 1951. While United Nations forces met with North Korean and Chinese officials at Panmunjeom for truce talks, Soviet supremo Joseph Stalin was opposed to them and used various stratagems to delay them. Chairman Mao had his own agenda and the net result was that the 'talks' have been going on ever since, long after Stalin and Mao had dep arted, and Panmunjeom has entered the English lexicon as being synonymous with endless, inconclusive jaw-jawing.
But the Chinese used talks in a variety of ways to advance their interests and had little hesitation in supping with the devil if it was so warranted. History records that when there were no formal links between the US and China in the early fifties and tension mounted over the Taiwan issue, Chinese leaders entered into the Warsaw talks in 1958 ó where the ambassadors of the two countries to Poland met intermittently. And, as is well-known, these talks continued for a full 13 years until the famous Nixon-Kissinger breakthrough with Beijing in 1971. Closer home, the Sino-Indian border talks under the aegis of the JWG is still a work in progress, and consensual resolution a distant prospect.
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