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Republican leader backs Indo-US N-deal
Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | March 04, 2006 08:56 IST
Even as Capitol Hill remains divided over the Indo-US nuclear deal, Senate majority leader Bill First has extended his support to the landmark agreement signed during US President George Bush's India visit, saying that it represents a major step forward in bilateral relations.
Complete Coverage: President Bush in India
Acknowledging that his colleagues in the Senate do have differences over the civilian nuclear initiative, Republican leader asked members of US Congress, whose approval is needed for the realisation of the deal, to keep in mind that India has not been a proliferator of nuclear technology.
"The historic agreement between US President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to enhance cooperation between the US and India on issues relating to nuclear energy represents a major step forward in our relationship," he said in a statement.
Noting that the world's two oldest democracies had a deep interest in expanding and strengthening a close, cooperative strategic partnership, First said he believed that the Congress will support the agreement. India had not proliferated nuclear technology even though it was not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, he added.
"I am encouraged by the fact that this agreement will, for the first time, require a majority of India's nuclear reactors to be placed under international safeguards. This agreement will help bring India into the nonproliferation mainstream, improve nuclear safety, and strengthen their export controls," the Republican leader said.
First appreciated both Bush and Singh for this bold agreement, saying that he will continue to support a strong strategic partnership between the US and India, especially when it promises to promote democracy, stability, and prosperity in the region.
"Congress needs to review the agreement and understand its details before agreeing to change current law. The implications of this deal on America's non-proliferation efforts need to be addressed, as well as the impact it will have on our bilateral trade, energy goals, technology sharing, and our overall strategic relationship with India. I look forward to receiving detailed briefings from the Administration on this matter as we move forward," Senator First said.
Meanwhile in Capitol Hill, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator John Warner came out in support of the bilateral accord.
"This agreement is a positive step that will permit US cooperation with India on nuclear energy, while bringing India's civilian nuclear program under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It will help India develop cleaner sources of energy as its economy continues to expand," he said.
"It will also help our industrial base, as American firms lend their expertise in civilian nuclear power to our Indian partners," Warner added.
Complete Coverage: Indo-US Nuclear Tango