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Bush vows to push Indo-US nuclear deal

india Updated: Nov 09, 2006 10:31 IST
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A day after the collapse of his Republican majority in the US Congress, President George W Bush vowed to push the India-US civilian nuclear deal through the lame duck session of the outgoing Senate.

"I'm trying to get the Indian deal done, the Vietnam deal done, and the budgets done," he told a White House press conference on Wednesday where he extended an olive branch to Democrats and vowed to strike a new tone of bi-partisanship after years of partisan rancour.

With Democrats having recaptured the House and control of the Senate hinging on the outcome of an unsettled contest in Virginia, Bush's remarks raised hopes that fears about the India bill being put on the backburner in the changed political landscape of Washington may turn out to be unfounded.

This is so considering that the deal has wide bipartisan support with the Senate minority leader Harry Reid himself declaring it as his first priority during the lame duck session. But time could run out for the deal if Democratic members insist on pressing various amendments.

Before the poll, Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and the chief US negotiator of the US-India nuclear deal, had asserted that bipartisan support for the civilian nuclear deal would continue regardless of any political changes.

"I think most members of Congress agree with us that this is a very important element in our new strategic partnership," he told the Indian media.

The civilian nuclear deal has been identified as one of the two top priorities of the administration in the lame duck session of the Senate, which meets briefly on Thursday for introduction of bills and then reconvenes on Monday to begin its business session.

Apart from the India deal, the White House is keen the Vietnam Trade Bill is taken up first so that he can make an announcement during his state visit to Hanoi for the Nov 18-19 Leaders' Summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.