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Blackwell hopeful US Cong would clear N-deal

india Updated: Jun 29, 2006 22:35 IST
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Lauding House International Committee's endorsement of a bill to implement the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, former US ambassador to India Robert Blackwell said he was optimistic that the similar bill in the corresponding Senate committee would be passed on Thursday.

In an interview to a local TV channel, Blackwell also said the draft bills have not in any way altered the spirit of the deal or put new conditions.

"I am optimistic that we will have an outcome in the Senate which will be like the one in the House yesterday, which will capture the essences of the agreement the President (George W Bush) and the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) and without any new conditions," he informed from Washington.

"We hope there will be a vote in the Senate also about the same time, the end of July, and hopefully the legislation will pass the Congress at the end of July or early August," he said.

Blackwell noted that "killer amendments" introduced in the House Committee by those opposed to the Indo-US nuclear deal were voted out by big margins.

"What was striking about the so-called killer amendments yesterday was how support they had in the Committee as a whole and and I believe how little support they have in the House of Representatives."

"We won't know until there's a vote in the House... probably in the latter half of July. But all the signs in the House are excellent and this is really bi-partisan in character. Both Republicans and Democrats strongly supporting this agreement without any new conditions with respect to the government of India," he said. 

Blackwell, known to be close to President Bush and a specialist in South Asia, said the first part of the bill endorsed that contained the sense of the House did not have operational consequences or any new conditions either for the US Administration or for the Government of India.

"The only operational requirement, other than the one's we've discussed at length before, is that the bilateral technical agreement between the US and India with respect to inspections and so forth will be voted on in the Congress when that is completed. But that's largely technical and no one thinks that would be a problem."

He stressed that the operational parts of the House legislation "are completely and utterly consistent with the agreement between the President and Prime Minister in New Delhi" during Bush's visit in March this year.

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