India's communist parties are withdrawing their support for the country's coalition government to protest a planned nuclear deal with the United States.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) announced the decision Tuesday after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government would be meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency to seek approval of the deal.
The communist parties were not part of the coalition, but the government needed their 59 lawmakers for a parliamentary majority.
The prime minister said their withdrawal of support would not affect the stability of his government. Mr. Singh's Congress Party recently gained the support of the socialist Samajwadi Party, which says its 39 lawmakers will back the government and the nuclear deal.
Mr. Singh spoke today in Japan, where he is expected to meet U.S. President George Bush at a summit of the Group of Eight most industrialized nations.
The proposed nuclear deal would allow India to import U.S. nuclear fuel and technology for the first time in decades. India would not have to sign international non-proliferation accords, but it would have to separate its civilian and military nuclear programs and allow international inspectors into the country.
The Congress Party says it is in India's national interest to gain access to nuclear energy to drive its economy. But the communist parties say the deal will give Washington too much influence over India's foreign policy and nuclear-weapons program.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.