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Indo-US deal on top priority: White House

The White House says that the nuclear deal is one of the top issues for the administration in the lame duck session of the US Congress.

india Updated: Nov 11, 2006 11:55 IST

The White House has stressed that the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal is one of the "top" issues for the administration in the lame duck session of the US Congress.

US President George W Bush has had a meeting with senior Senate Democratic leaders in a bid to get his agenda through not only in the current lame duck session but also some of the remaining priority issues for the Congress.

"...The top of the list, if you start taking a look at the lame-duck session, we've already laid out a series of things on which both sides can work right now: The India civil nuclear deal, a free-trade agreement with Vietnam," White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters when asked to list the top issues for the lame duck session.

After his meeting with Bush, the present Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who is tipped to become the Senate Majority Leader, said the first order of business when the session gets under way next year is Congressional oversight.

Reid also stressed that the President and the small group of senators had discussed several issues and hoped that the spirit of bi-partisanship will also be reflected at the lame-duck session.

"...The first order of business when we reorganise after the first of the year is congressional oversight. Let's find out what's going on with the war in Iraq, the different large federal agencies that we have. There simply has been no oversight in recent years," Reid told reporters here.

"The president talked about my theme, which is bipartisanship. And I said to him, we have been six years, and we have two years to go to see if this will work. I hope we will.

We have two ways of showing this. The first is in the lame duck and then, of course, after we come back the first of the year," he said.

"There are so many important issues we can work on together. We talked about immigration...Education...Iraq... energy. There are a lot of things that we need to work on, and we hope the president is sincere.

"Nothing can be accomplished in this town unless it's on a bipartisan basis. That's the way it goes," he added.

Indications are that the Senate is likely to schedule the civilian nuclear deal sometime next week but the last word on the subject is yet to be said.

Sources told the agency that Republicans and Democrats have first to come to terms on a number of other contentious issues before the rank ordering of the priorities are done by the leaderships.

What is being pointed out is that the civilian nuclear deal has not only good bipartisan support in the Senate but it is one of the least contentious bill currently facing law makers in the Senate.

First Published: Nov 11, 2006 11:55 IST