Shimla: Soon after US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns left, the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee blamed the US, indicating that the Indo-US nuclear deal is in trouble.
Nearly a hundred parliamentarians from SAARC countries gathered in Shimla, working hard to chalk out plans promoting South Asian unity.
But all of that took a back seat when Mukherjee pointed out that there were roadblocks in working out the bilateral 1-2-3 Agreement from the US side.
"There are certain legal constraints on the part of the Administration of USA. Through the negotiations, we are trying to resolve these issues. We hope it would be possible to arrive at a final conclusion but it's not possible to give any time frame," said Mukherjee.
Resolution of the issue of reprocessing is critical for India. Once this is enshrined in the agreement, it removes uncertainties in the future course of the nuclear agreement.
But as the Americans have warned, this requires Congress to amend the law, which would not be easy.
The real task ahead is for the officials working on both sides to iron out these technicalities, a fact also reiterated by Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon on Saturday.
"There were several issues, which were still open when we started this discussion and we have managed to remove some from the table. We still have a few issues left, where there is some distance for us to travel," said Menon.
India would prefer a speedy agreement at the earliest because the US goes to election mode next year. And Democrats controlled Congress would be less inclined to accommodate the dealings of the Bush Administration.