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“My Astonishment Has Its Limits”

Interesting observations from former Clinton diplomat and possible Kremlin dupe Strobe Talbott, from an interview with the always-interesting Shekhar Gupta.
It rarely makes the front page in the U.S., but the nuclear deal the Bush administration cut with India is an above-the-fold epic in South Asia. And the sticking point–surprise, surprise–is cheap partisan politics of a sort that should be familiar to all American Congress-watchers.

Strobe Talbott, former Deputy Secretary of State in the Clinton administration and one of the key interlocutors who helped redefine the Indo-US relationship during the Atal Behari Vajpayee regime, has said that the BJP-led government would not only have signed the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement if the same deal were offered to them but would have been “astonished” at how friendly it was towards India.
“Had the Clinton administration been prepared to offer the BJP-led government the deal which President Bush is willing to offer to Manmohan Singh and company, (the) Indian side would have gone for it and they also would have been astonished given what they knew about our position on the issues involved,” Talbott said.
Speaking to The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV’s Walk the Talk broadcast today, Talbott, who is now president [at the] Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, said the deal was an “agreement that was brilliantly negotiated by the Indian side,” and that “it will be better for everybody if India were to implement the deal (now).”
When asked if he is astonished at the BJP’s opposition, he said, “My astonishment has its limits.”

Neither am I astonished that the American media continues to portray the Bush administration as giving scanty attention to diplomacy. My astonishment has its limits, too.

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