- The Washington Times - Friday, July 22, 2005

NEW DELHI (Agence France-Presse) — The Communist allies of India’s Congress party-led government said closer ties forged with the United States during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit this week could harm New Delhi’s interests on the global stage.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said an agreement to reopen civilian nuclear cooperation between the two countries could hamper “the pursuit of an independent nuclear technology policy for peaceful purposes.”

President Bush said during Mr. Singh’s visit that he would ask Congress to lift sanctions preventing Indian access to civilian nuclear technology as part of a new bilateral partnership that also includes initiatives to promote democracy, and combat terrorism.

But the Communists said New Delhi should realize the United States “is hardly the exemplar of upholding democracy around the world.”

“It does not serve India’s interest to applaud U.S. leadership, either for spreading democracy or combating terrorism,” they said.

“India, as a major developing country, needs to have a balanced and equitable relationship with the United States.”

The Communists, who provide crucial support to the Congress party in India’s central government, said the nuclear deal could mean the government would have to purchase billions of dollars worth of arms from the United States in return.

Traditionally close to the Communists of the former Soviet Union, India adopted a nonaligned position during the Cold War. Ties with the United States have warmed since the opening up of the Indian economy in the early 1990s.

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