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Will clear mark-up: US

The Senate panel's leaders are still working on their version of the bill, for a projected mark-up on June 28.

india Updated: Jun 23, 2006 02:07 IST

The Bush administration has expressed confidence that the nuclear deal legislation now being retooled in the two key committees of US Congress will pass muster during next week's mark-up and go on to secure approval in the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who held discussions on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, indicated the administration's backing to a bipartisan bill produced by the leadership of the House International Relations Committee. 

At the same time, he made it clear that the administration will not support any deal breaker-type of amendments that would force it to go back and renegotiate the agreement with India. "We are not willing to do that," he said.

While the retooled House legislation has not been made public yet, Burns termed it "a stronger bill" while speaking at an event, organised by the Congressional Task Force on US-India Trade and the US-India Business Alliance. 

The bill, authored by House International Relations Committee chairman Henry Hyde and Democratic co-chair Tom Lantos, is slated for a mark-up vote on June 27.

"Because of the interplay between the Congress and the administration, this is a stronger Bill because Congress has been able to add its own views and I think the Bill is strengthened because of that. We are optimistic that this legislation can now go forward.

We have an opportunity to have bipartisan victory for the American people," Burns said. 

The Senate panel's leaders -- chairman Richard Lugar and Democratic co-chair Joseph Biden -- are still working on their version of the bill, for a projected mark-up on June 28.

Lantos rakes up Iran

Senior lawmaker Tom Lantos, an otherwise key supporter of the nuclear deal, has once again raked up the Iran dimension, warning India that the landmark pact could be jeopardised if it did not steer clear of moves supportive of Tehran's nuclear quest.

The Democrat from California, who is also co-chair of the House International Relations Committee,  took exception on Wednesday to India lending support to a statement by the Non-Aligned Movement that all countries, including Iran, had a right to nuclear research and production of energy.

"This is a very negative phenomenon and I earnestly hope that there will be a great deal of care taken by our Indian friends if they want this proposal (nuclear deal) to get through Congress and become reality in the near future," Lantos said at a Capitol Hill event. 

As he put it, the statement by the 114-member NAM was "diametrically opposed" to the position on Iran taken by the US and other P-5 members of the Security Council -- Britain, France, Russia and China -- and Germany. 

Save for the Iranian angle, Lantos indicated that he was solidly behind the deal.