Bush, Manmohan made WTO headway possible

London, July 27:

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and US president George W Bush are responsible for creating the first breakthrough in the long-stalled world trade talks in Geneva, a British newspaper reported today.

Bush made a private telephone call to Manmohan Singh late Thursday evening, when international attention was focused on presidential candidate Barack Obama’s visit to Europe. Although the two leaders were meant to have discussed the India-US nuclear deal, the subject swiftly changed to the Doha Development Round, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The call came a day after India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath returned to Geneva amid the gloomy news that the talks had stalled once again.

With talks facing collapse seven years after their launch in the Qatari capital, Manmohan Singh and Bush held two more telephone conversations over the next 48 hours, again limiting their subject to trade, the newspaper said. “The situation seemed intractable. But, overnight, in the hours that followed that first phone call, something changed. India and Brazil started to negotiate. WTO director general Pascal Lamy seized the opportunity. He did what many regard as a ‘nuclear option’ for the talks and drafted a short one-page document setting out the key proposals. The deadline for the meetings was pushed forward to Wednesday.