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Berman persuaded to drop tough line; Congressional nod likely

world Updated: Sep 26, 2008 09:02 IST
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Raising hopes for an early passage of the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Bush administration has convinced the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman to drop his tough stance on the landmark accord, and agree to the Senate version of the Bill of Approval.

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Chairman Berman late in the day. Following the call, Congressman Berman introduced his new legislation, now referred to as HR7081, the Senate Version of the Bill," a top aide in the House Foreign Affairs Committee told PTI.

Berman, a vocal critic of the 123 agreement with India, had introduced a bill which was almost identical to the one overwhelmingly adopted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a rider that all nuclear assistance to India would cease if New Delhi conducts a test.

However, his bill had an extra paragraph that would require that the Senate and the House versions would have to be reconciled in a committee with the involvement of the administration.

Berman, whose original Bill had some language that could have turned out somewhat uncomfortable for the administration and India, was persuaded to drop killer amendments including one on Iran that could have sabotaged the legislation.

Congressional and political sources maintain that one reason why the administration may have gone the extra mile in persuading Berman is the time factor -- by agreeing to the Senate version valuable time is saved by way of not having to reconcile two versions in a conference committee in a legislative calendar that is coming very close to a finish.