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Bush administration on the defensive before Congress
Aziz Haniffa in Washington | October 27, 2005 10:33 IST
The Bush Administration was on the defensive Wednesday in the wake of the scathing attack by Congressman Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, who earlier said with biting sarcasm in reference to the US-India civilian nuclear agreement that "as it stands, the situation is both strange and unusual in that the Indian authorities know more about this important proposal than we in Congress."
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, said Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns - the Administration's point man to push the deal through in Congress - and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and Security Robert Joseph "haven't actually started the consultation process with the Hill on the potential agreement."
"If any agreement does, in fact, go forward, "McCormack said, seemingly expressing some doubt, "it would require action by the Congress."
But he noted, "Before we actually present any agreement to the Congress, India needs to take several steps, including the separation of their civilian and military nuclear programs, so these are preconditions for us actually presenting this agreement to the Congress."
McCormack declared, "We are convinced that this is a good agreement for the United States, a good agreement for India and the world if India does take certain steps. And Under Secretary Burns made it very clear in his discussion with the Indian government as well as in his public comments that we have begun some initial consultations, but we are not at the point of presenting an agreement to Congress for them to make decisions about."
He said, "The steps would require first some actions from the Indian government," and added, "We are going to be working with the Indian government on this matter, but it will first require some action on their part."