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Burns positive on N-deal approval

india Updated: Jun 23, 2006 11:47 IST

Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns has expressed confidence that the US-India civilian nuclear deal would get Congressional approval before the end of next month.

He said the legislation being brought by House International Relations Chairman Henry Hyde has bi-partisan support and has been fine-tuned with Congressional ideas, which the administration welcomes.

"We are optimistic that this legislation can now go forward," Burns said in his address to the US-India Business Council, which marked its 31st anniversary on Thursday.

The House International Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on a 'mark-up' of the legislation on June 27 sponsored by its Chairman Henry Hyde and Ranking Democratic member Tom Lantos on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

Similarly, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would mark-up a bill authored by its Chairman Richard Lugar and Ranking Democrat Joseph Biden.

Saying that the Bush Administration was not taking anything for granted on the deal, Burns, the chief negotiator on the deal, said he had conveyed to the Congress that "we would favour a majority vote", a straight up and down vote in the Congress on the conclusion of the deal. He also made it clear that administration would not approve of any amendment that amounts to a deal-breaker.

Burns reiterated the civil nuclear agreement with India is "positive for our national interests, because what we do believe, it will strengthen, not weaken the non-proliferation regime."

Earlier, former Ambassadors to India Frank Wisner and Robert Blackwill and former Defence Secretary Willian S Cohen also talked about the importance of the civil nuclear deal with India. They said the United States confronts a defining moment in its post Cold War, post 9/11 relations with India. It can choose a thriving strategic partnership that will elevate its ties with India to a new level across a broad panorama of converging national interests, fighting terrorism and extremism, promoting democracy, human rights and peace; advancing economic, energy and environmental security and making the world safer from weapons of mass destruction.

The key to fortifying the strategic partnership lies in enabling legislation by Congress authorising the sharing of civilian nuclear technology with India, they added.

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