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India-US nuclear deal to stay on course despite issues

The US is confident that a few remaining legislative issues relating to the India-US nuclear deal will be resolved.

india Updated: Jul 01, 2006 11:18 IST

The US is confident that a few remaining legislative issues relating to the India-US nuclear deal will be resolved without the whole process being reopened or the road map outlined by President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being changed.

Even as the Bush Administration is mighty pleased with the strong bipartisan support the deal received from two key panels of the US Congress, State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli indicated Friday that a few issues still remained to be addressed.

"There are a couple of remaining issues to be addressed. Discussions are ongoing. I'm not in a position to really get into any detail," he said.

"But, as I said, the package we have before us is what we're working on and we think it'll -- and we're confident that it will end up positive and end up fulfilling the vision of President Bush and Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) of India, consistent with the statements they made in July 2005 and March 2006," Ereli said.

"Obviously it has to go through some more work, but we're confident that it will be a cooperative and a good process and it will end up with something that everybody can support and that serves the interests of the United States and our strong partner," he said.

Welcoming the strong bipartisan support for the deal in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House International Relations Committee, Ereli said the administration would continue to work with Congress, as it has in the past, to address remaining issues in the legislation, which will now be considered by the full House and the full Senate.

Asked if it entailed some collateral legislation or some amendments, he said the legislative package approved by the committees has to get the nod from the full House and the Senate and there may well be some changes based on consultations with the two chambers.

Ereli did not think that a change in legislation would mean going through the process all over again. "The way I'd put is, there are a few remaining issues to be worked out and we think we'll be able to do that without reopening or -- reopening the whole process or changing the path that has been outlined so far."

Washington's key negotiator with India, Nick Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs, has also indicated that "there are many steps ahead of us, but we believe Congress is supporting the president's policies here".

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee endorsed the US-India nuclear deal by a 16-2 vote Thursday two days after the House of Representatives' International Relations Committee approved the draft enabling bill 37-5.

Meanwhile, the US Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organisations of every size, sector, and region, and the US-India Business Council (USIBC), representing the largest US investors and traders with India, have hailed the approval of the India-US deal by the two Congress panels.

"This initiative will create lucrative opportunities for US industry, create high quality jobs for American workers, and lay the foundation for vast downstream opportunities in every sector of US business," said Lt. Gen. Daniel W. Christman, chairman of the Coalition for Partnership with India and senior vice president for International Affairs at the US Chamber.

Indian community activists too have welcomed the approval of the deal by the Senate and House panels. Several bodies such as the India Friendship Council and the US-India Political Action Committee have actively lobbied for the deal.