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US Speaker to brief PM on N-deal

US House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert's endorsement could be crucial in shaping Congress' position.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2006 20:22 IST

Close on the heels of Senator Chuck Hagel's positive overview of the India-US civil nuclear deal, another influential operator on Capitol Hill - US House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert - will brief Manmohan Singh on Tuesday night on the likely chances of the deal getting Congressional approval this year.

Hastert heads an eight-member team of legislators who represent an eclectic set of interests, including business, science and agriculture and their opinion will matter in influencing the future course of the India-US ties.

"They will be meeting the Indian prime minister over dinner and update him on the debate about nuclear deal on Capitol Hill," sources in the American embassy said.

Hastert's positive endorsement of the deal could be crucial in shaping the Congressional position on approving legislation favouring nuclear commerce with India.

Another Congressional delegation led by Michael Enzi, a Republican senator from Wyoming, will be meeting top Indian officials in Delhi on Thursday and discuss the nuclear deal and issues like education and cooperation in health areas, including the fight against AIDS and pandemics like avian flu.

Senator Edward Kennedy, a pillar of the liberal establishment and a prominent Democrat from Massachusetts, who was earlier supposed to accompany this delegation, couldn't make it due to personal reasons, sources said.

Hagel, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and briefed him on the "general positive mood and optimism" on Capitol Hill and expressed hope that the deal will be ratified by the Congress before the end of this year.

Last week, US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher set an optimistic tone and told a business meet here that the nuclear deal will sail through despite some opposition.