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Donor offensive to bag Hillary vote

Clinton is the key person who could swing the Democrat vote in favour of the deal, reports NR Chaudhury.

india Updated: May 02, 2006 01:30 IST
Nilova Roy Chaudhury
Nilova Roy Chaudhury

Efforts are on to get major Indian American donors to Hillary Clinton's campaign to "persuade her" to cast her vote in favour of the Indo-US nuclear deal in the US Senate. Clinton, who has so far not spoken on the deal, is seen as the key person who could swing the Democrat vote in favour of the deal.

According to government sources, the US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) has been pressed into action to secure an endorsement from Clinton, who is the Democratic co-chair of the India caucus in the Senate. Other major donors, hoteliers and physicians have also been urged to work on her to endorse the deal.

Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs said Clinton had been "cautious", though her silence in an election year did not necessarily mean she was against the deal. But her influence over the Democratic vote was "undeniable".

The draft of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal is expected to emerge from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee first, possibly as soon as the middle of May, because of the pace at which its Chairman, Richard Lugar, has been conducting proceedings. It will then be placed for a vote before the full Senate.

Passage through the House International Relations Committee, headed by Henry Hyde, is likely to take longer, before the final vote before the joint Houses, which would make the changes to Article 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act into law.

A group of "technical experts" on nuclear and arms control issues, from the Bureau for arms control and international security affairs (headed by Robert Joseph) will visit India shortly. This group is likely to be headed by Steve Rademaker, Assistant Secretary in the department. It will firm up details of the Indo-US bilateral treaty that needs to be in place when the US Houses of Congress decide on amending US law.

During negotiations, they are likely to seek further "concessions" from India, like a statement of India's "credible minimum deterrent", but New Delhi is firm that it is bound only by commitments it has made in the July 18,2005 joint statement. Since the deal is about civil nuclear energy cooperation, details of India's strategic programme are out of the ambit.

US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Richard Boucher, will stop over in Delhi for a few hours on Tuesday (on his way back from Nepal) for talks with MEA officials.

First Published: May 02, 2006 01:00 IST