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'Senate will clear N-deal with substantial margin'

The senior US lawmaker warns against pushing Senators "too hard" to pass the legislation.

india Updated: Jul 20, 2006 08:54 IST

A senior US law maker expressed confidence that the Senate will clear the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal with a "substantial margin" but has warned against pushing Senators "too hard" to pass the legislation as it will give a feeling that it is being forced on them without time for adequate deliberations.

Senator John Cornyn, who is the founder and co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, also agreed with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar that the relevant legislation may not be taken up by the full Senate prior to it going on recess on August 4.

"I think this legislation looks very good. Things move slowly in the Senate -- it is the nature of the beast. It is also a function of the narrow windows of time available to bring things to the floor. But I think it is moving very well. It is getting good bi-partisan support and that to me is an indication that it will be successful," Senator Cornyn said.

He was responding to a query after addressing war veteran groups pushing for the clearance of the nuclear deal.

Asked about the possibility of the Senate taking up the legislation prior to the start of its August recess the Texas Senator replied, "I think that will be hard to get it done by then. We have so many other issues that have been pressing for a long time."

He cautioned, "...What we have to be careful about is that we have to push as hard as we can, but we don't want to push it too hard and have Senators feel like we are trying to force this on them without adequate time to understand and adequate deliberations."

"I haven't counted the votes yet but I am confident that before it is all said and done, it will pass by a substantial margin," Cornyn said.

In his formal remarks to the veterans groups, he expressed hope that the legislation will "quickly be ratified " by the House of Representatives and the Senate.

"I believe it is in our national security interests and I also happen to believe that India has an outstanding record when it comes to non proliferation and in efforts to be a nation that shares the values of the United States.

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pointed out one day recently how the quest for energy has distorted our geo-political relationships and it is important that we recognise the contribution that nuclear power can make.

"It is a great opportunity for not only American companies doing business in India, it is an important symbolic step towards this whole strategic partnership between the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy. This is clearly in my view in the United States' national interests," he added.

Eight veterans groups ranging from the 2.4 million strong Veterans of Foreign Wars to the Gold Star Wives announced their strong support to the nuclear accord.

The eight groups signed on to an advertisement in a major Capitol Hill publication, Roll Call, the cost of which was paid for by the Indian American Security Leadership Council.