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American Jewish panel supports nuclear deal

The Indo-US nuclear agreement will advance our growing relationship, and this is in America's interest, the body said.

india Updated: May 17, 2006 15:56 IST

As the debate continues on the merits of the India-US civil nuclear deal, the powerful American Jewish Committee (AJC) has appealed to the Congress to pass legislation that would give New Delhi access to long-denied civil nuclear energy technology.

In letters written to the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Richard Lugar and House International Relations Committee chair Henry Hyde, the AJC has called the nuclear deal "strategic" and "forward-looking" and one that will suit the strategic requirements of both countries.

The letters, written by AJC president E Robert Goodkind and executive director David A Harris, were also sent to top Democrats Joseph Biden and Tom Lantos.

In a bid to influence the hawkish non-proliferation lobby in favour of the India-US nuclear deal, the AJC said that the deal recognised "the nuclear capabilities of India, a vibrant democracy, while preserving the essence of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is a bulwark of peace and stability in the post-War world".

"The AJC strongly supports the proposed India-US civil nuclear energy agreement and urges approval of the enabling legislation," the AJC said.

The committee underlined the breathtaking potential of the deal to transform the quality of India-US strategic relationship that has been hobbled in the past by Washington's stance on New Delhi's nuclear programme and appealed to Congressmen to back the agreement.

With a population of more than one billion and an expanding economy, India offers the US a "stable, democratic partner in Asia, as well as significant trade and investment opportunities", the panel said.

"The Indo-US nuclear agreement will advance this growing relationship, and is profoundly in America's national interest."

"After almost 50 years of misunderstanding, India and the US are on a path of rapidly increasing cooperation that includes counter-terrorism and regional security efforts, and touches on many sectors, political, commercial, scientific and educational," the AJC added.

"Our confidence in pluralistic and democratic India, in the administration's care in crafting this agreement, and in the natural alliance between India and the US underlies our support for this timely and prudent step forward in US-India relations," the AJC added.