American President George W Bush called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday to reassure the PM that his administration was continuing intensive efforts to ensure that the Indo-US civil nuclear deal is cleared by the US Senate.
He also took the opportunity to assure Singh that the North Korean nuclear test would not adversely affect the Indo-US bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement.
Bush also explained the sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council on North Korea and sought India’s support to help implement those sanctions.
The US Senate, facing time constraints, did not take up the issue of amending US legislation to enable the bilateral civil nuclear deal to fructify before it went into the pre-election recess at the end of September. Intense lobbying is on to try and get the draft legislation through the Senate when it meets for the ‘lame duck’ session in mid-November.
The Prime Minister received the telephone call from President Bush this evening, a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said. During the ten-minute long discussion, both leaders took the opportunity to exchange views on current matters and catch up after Singh’s visits to both the summit of non-aligned nations in Havana (in September) and the European Union in Helsinki.
Among the issues they discussed, the release said, were the Doha Round of trade negotiations, after the recently stalled WTO meet, the India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation understanding, developments in the region, including in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and recent developments in North Korea.
The Security Council voted over the weekend to impose economic sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea). It is also mulling the imposition of sanctions on Iran for failing to suspend its uranium enrichment programme, after several rounds of negotiations with the EU-3 have stalled. The United States has been pushing for sanctions to ensure that both these countries, comprising two-third of the ‘axis of evil,’ (along with Iraq) stop their nuclear weapons ambitions.
India has repeatedly raised concerns about the clandestine proliferation of nuclear technology in the neighbourhood, the most recent example of which are last Monday’s nuclear test by DPRK, which it has deplored.