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NRIs stars of signing show

Indian-Americans were the guests of honour at the signing ceremony ? ruling the show, reports Pramit Pal Chaudhuri.

india Updated: Dec 20, 2006 02:14 IST

Indian-Americans were the guests of honour at the signing ceremony — ruling the show.

The ceremony, which began at 10 am, was designed to catch prime-time television viewers in India. Their presence, said, Walter Andersen, an Indian analyst at Johns Hopkins University, “is a very concrete sign of the growing political clout of the community.” The head of the USINDIA Political Forum and a key force in mobilising congressional support, Ashok Mago, said after the ceremony, “For me, personally it was a great feeling to see the results of the hard work of 18 months, just like passing an exam with flying colours.”

There was an estimated 150 or so people at the ceremony, filling the East Room. Senior congressional leaders and members of the India Caucus, key Bush administration officials and India experts from various think tanks were among those who attended the ceremony.  “It was really a who’s who of long-time India watchers and supporters,” said South Asia analyst Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation.

The East Room was decorated for the holiday season, with two large Christmas trees on either side where Bush signed the bill. The White House allowed guests to bring cameras and take snapshots.

Bush thanked a number of people, notably US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, various US congressmen, the US ambassador to India, David Mulford, and the acting Indian ambassador, Raminder Jassal. Under secretary of state for political affairs Nicholas Burns expressed confidence that the agreement with India under Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act, which governs nuclear commerce with other nations, would be signed in a "few months".The NSG is also expected to give its nod to trade, Burns said

Email Pramit Pal Chaudhuri: pramitpc.gmail.com

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