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US hopes Bhopal verdict won't affect Civil N-liability Bill

world Updated: Jun 08, 2010 14:41 IST

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The US today hoped the Bhopal gas tragedy case will not "inhibit" its expanding ties with India and that the court verdict will bring "closure" to the families of the victims and rejected opening of new inquiries.

The Obama Administration also hoped the Bhopal court verdict in the world's worst industrial disaster will not affect the Indian civil nuclear liability bill.

The nuclear bill, which is facing opposition in India, is currently before Parliament.

The American reactions by two senior officials came amid outrage by civil rights activists over the US parent company
Union Carbide escaping criminal liability and its chairman Warren Anderson being allowed to go scot free in connection with the 1984 gas disaster in which over 15,000 people died.

The officials were reacting to yesterday's verdict convicting seven Indian employees including ex-Union Carbide
India Chairman Keshub Mahindra and sentencing them to two years in prison each, nearly 26 years after the tragedy.

"With respect to Bhopal, obviously that was one of the greatest industrial tragedies and industrial accidents in
human history.

And let me just say that we hope that this verdict today helps to bring some closure to the victims and their
families," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake told a news conference here.

Blake hoped the verdict will not lead to opening of new inquiries into the role of Union Carbide in the disaster.

"But I don't expect this verdict to reopen any new, you know, inquiries or anything like that. On the contrary, we hope that this is going to help to bring closure," Blake told foreign reporters in response to a question.

Responding to a specific question on the Bhopal gas tragedy and the court's decisions, Blake said this is an
internal matter of India.

To a similar question at another news briefing, the State Department spokesman, P J Crowley said: "This tragedy
happened 26 years ago, and it was a terrible tragedy, one of the worst industrial accidents in human history, and we
certainly hope that the verdict brings some closure to the families of the victims of this tragedy."

Crowley hoped that this particular case "does not inhibit - or the continuing expansion of economic, cultural,
and political ties between the two countries."

"We fully expect that this will not be the case," he said.

"The Indian Parliament will have to make judgement on the nuclear liabilities bill, but this criminal case should
have no relation to the liability legislation currently before the parliament," Crowley said.