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Nuke deal | 'Final approval by year-end'

The House of Representatives may pass the bill next week and the Senate soon after that, says top US official.

india Updated: Jul 18, 2006 21:16 IST

The United States has said the historic Indo-US civilian nuclear deal is on track and the "unique" agreement could receive the final approval by the end of this year if everything moves in tandem.

"The agreement is on track...The legislation is moving quickly...Our Congress has been very supportive," Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher said.

Washington also said it was not aware of any other country making a proposal for Pakistan on the lines of the agreement with India.

Interacting with foreign journalists on the eve of first anniversary of the historic July 18, 2005 meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W Bush, the senior US official, but, said he was "hesitant" to predict the timeframe for the deal to come into force.

Boucher said the administration hopes that the House of Representatives takes up the legislation some time next week and the Senate soon after that.

"Once each passes legislation, assuming that it is not exactly the same, they'll have to go through a conference, which would happen after their August recess. So perhaps in September they could put through the final legislation," he said.

Boucher said US was working with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the deal while India was into negotiations with the US and the IAEA on safeguards agreement.

"So, if all those pieces come together and we have the legislation, it's conceivable that all this could be done by the end of the year, but I can't promise specifically that it will be, because each of these factors has to move forward and get concluded on its o track," Boucher said.

The US is keeping its commitment of turning President's and Prime Minister's vision into reality...And that we can use to help support Indian economic growth and India's economic future," Boucher said.

Boucher's comments came hours after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W Bush held talks on the sidelines of the G-8 summit and discussed a wide range of issues including the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.

During the talks, Singh has conveyed to the US President India's specific concerns over proposed American legislation granting waivers for nuclear commerce and sought "constructive solutions" to these problems. Bush has expressed optimism that the deal would go through with the US Congress finalising the legislation in the next few weeks.

He said the deal was "unique" and that he has not seen "anybody" making a proposal for any other country on similar lines. He was responding to a query on China making it known that it was interested in pursuing a similar deal for Pakistan.

"As far as things, discussions taking place within the NSG, we're really not supposed to talk about it, and so I don't want to violate the confidence of that organisation...I think it's safe to say that I have not seen any proposal by any government to make a similar sale to another country along the lines of the one with India.

"We certainly believe that the situation with India is unique. That's the way we've approached this agreement, that's the way we've pursued it, and I think that remains the view of many other members of the international community. So I haven't seen anybody make a proposal for anyone else along those lines," he said.    
On the G-8 communiqué on non-proliferation, Boucher said that it not only reflected the distance travelled by many European nations since 1998 but also of that of India. 
"As far as the G-8 non proliferation, it's truly an interesting question that if you look at the grouping, a number of them have already pronounced themselves firmly in favour of civilian nuclear cooperation with India.

"We also know that the director general of the IAEA is strongly supportive of civil nuclear cooperation with India under the terms that we've outlined. So there is, I think, very strong desire on the part of many nations in the world to have this kind of cooperation with India, to help India meet its energy needs in a clear manner for its future economic development," Boucher said.
"But I would point to the other side of this, as well; that India certainly has changed its attitude towards many of these or organizations and towards the international non proliferation effort. And it's important, it's important that India is changing its mindset.

"There was just a very interesting speech given by the foreign secretary last week about the one-year anniversary of the Prime Minister and President's agreement, but also about sort of India's attitude towards the world" he added.

"...As we change our attitude towards India, it's interesting to see the Indians reflect on their relations with others in the world, particularly with some of these organizations that they have had problems with in the past.

"And it is interesting to reflect how important it is that India is joining the international non proliferation effort because they understand the importance of that effort to its future stability, security and safety," Boucher said.