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US Senate hearing on N-deal begins

world Updated: Sep 19, 2008 02:07 IST

The powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday night kicked off a crucial hearing on the Indo-US nuclear deal, with a senior democrat presiding over the panel saying that the Congress will be "well advised" to approve the agreement this month.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns and Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Rood are testifying before the panel being presided over by Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd in the absence of the Committee Chairman Joseph Biden.

Biden, who is the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, is currently hitting the campaign trail.

In his opening remarks, Senator Dodd called the hearing "very important and historic" and that the core issue is not about nuclear weapons.

The Connecticut Democrat emphasised that the Congress will be "well advised" to approve the agreement this month.

"It is not a partisan issue," Dodd maintained.

The Bush administration has also presented to the panel Richard Stratfford, Director, Office of Nuclear Energy, Safety and Security Affairs in the Bureau of International Security and Non-Proliferation.

In his opening statement submitted for the record, Burns said establishing and strengthening "our strategic partnership with India has been a key foreign policy priority" for the Bush administration as it was for the previous Clinton government and will be for the successor administration.