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Ackerman sees 'full House' support for nuclear deal

The US lawmaker stresses that India is not like Iran, North Korea or Pakistan as it is not a sponsor of terrorism.

india Updated: Jul 11, 2006 10:25 IST

Observing that the House International Relations Committee had produced a "very good bill" on the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India Gary Ackerman has expressed confidence that the full House of Representatives will pass the Bill in a "large margin".

Ackerman noted that with the "expedited process now in place, Congress can move on the legislation when all elements are in place" and that Capitol Hill is favourably predisposed to a legislation that not only strengthens the bilateral relationship but also sends a positive signal.

Ackerman was was one of the main speakers at the Inaugural Unity Luncheon of the two largest Indian American membership association, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, in Washington.

India, the New York lawmaker noted was not like Iran, North Korea or Pakistan in that it is not a state sponsor of terrorism, has not proliferated its weapons or technologies of mass destruction and above all is a "true democracy".

"If you wanted to be treated like India, be like India" Ackerman emphasised.

Turning to the civilian nuclear deal, the Democratic lawmaker and a long time supporter of India maintained that the legislative process has indeed a long way to go and that while passage was likely, it is not a certainty and that Congress would have to realise that it is dealing with something of historic proportion of profound consequences.

"This is not the time to be lax. This is not the time to relax. This is the time to make things happen", the Congressman told the Indian American community.

India's Ambassador to the United States Ronen Sen spoke of the "fresh momentum" that had been given to the bilateral relationship with the visit of the former President Bill Clinton and taken forward by the current President George W Bush by giving the process greater acceleration and "taken to new heights".

"The vision" of Bush, the Ambasssador said, was translated into action by his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Sen hailed the Indian American community for making the new vision "a reality".

The civilian nuclear energy agreement between the United States and India is a vitally important issue and has assumed, rightly or wrongly and susbtantively or symbolically has come to be seen as the "litmus test" of the deepening and widening partnership,Sen maintained.

"The stakes are very high that this bold initiative succeeds" Sen told the gathering going on to make the point that the relationship between the United States and India is strategic because it is not based on the "shifting sands of political expediency" but on shared values,shared concerns and long term interests of mutual benefit that went beyond bilateral cooperation to include global initiatives as well.