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Bobby Jindal to visit India in Jan

The Indian American will visit India alongwith US Speaker Dennis Hastert ahead of President Bush's visit.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2005 18:51 IST

US House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert and Indian American Congressman Bobby Jindal will visit India in January ahead of President George W Bush's scheduled trip.

A visit by Hastert signifies the importance Congress attaches to the July 18 agreement between Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, charting a strategic cooperation between the two democracies, including in the critical field of civilian nuclear technology.

Hastert's visit is crucial to convincing legislators in the US that the Indian side is carrying out measures being thrashed out following the July 18 agreement, specifically the separation of civilian and military nuclear facilities and putting them under international safeguards, as well as assurances on fissile material production cut-offs, a touchy point at this time.

The Bush visit, expected to take place somewhere in February or early March 2006, might not have in hand the finished product of the July agreement for civilian nuclear cooperation as Congressmen believe that could happen some time in March or April.

Hastert, who is the third highest ranking official in the American government hierarchy, will be visiting India with Representative Jindal (Republican-Louisiana), who became the first Indian American to win a Congressional seat in 46 years after his victory in November 2004.

"And that itself is an indication of the rising importance of India, that the speaker of the House will be visiting India," Representative Joe Wilson, Republican from South Carolina said.

Wilson also indicated that Hastert was looking at the civilian nuclear agreement favourably.

"... for his (Hastert's) specific stance, you would have to contact him. But I do know that he is approaching it very positively because of the high regard he has for India and the appreciation that he has of contributions of Indian Americans to making America a better place," Wilson maintained.

First Published: Dec 22, 2005 11:10 IST