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Bush to sign bill on nuclear deal on Wednesday

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | October 07, 2008 18:30 IST

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President George W Bush [Images] is all set to sign the legislation on Indo-US nuclear deal into law on Wednesday after the landmark agreement got the Congressional nod, a move which will leave behind a foreign policy legacy for his administration.

Bush, who had entered into the civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] three years ago, will sign the Bill HR 7081 on the nuclear deal at the East Room of the White House.

"The President cordially invites you to the signing of H R 7081, United States India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act," reads an invitation sent out by the White House.

Ever since the Senate passed the legislation on October 1, senior officials have privately maintained that Bush will be keen on having a signing ceremony in which he will have the opportunity to thank not only members of his administration, especially at the State Department and White House who worked to secure the deal, but also lawmakers and leaders of the Indian American community.

The bill was approved by the House of Representatives before the Senate gave its nod for it. It had bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate.

The agreement is considered as one of the major achievements of the Bush administration in bolstering the strategic ties between the world's biggest democracies.

It will leave behind a foreign policy legacy for the two-time President Bush, who is to vacate the White House on January 20 when the victor of the November 4 Presidential polls -- either Democrat Barack Obama [Images] or Republican John McCain [Images] -- assumes charge.

Soon after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the Bill, Bush had said in a statement that he was looking forward to signing the legislation into law and continuing to strengthen the US-India Strategic Partnership.

"This legislation will strengthen our global nuclear non-proliferation efforts, protect the environment, create jobs and assist India in meeting its growing energy needs in a responsible manner," Bush had said.

Analysts have described the Indo-US nuclear deal as a rare foreign policy success of the Bush administration which has been criticised for its handling of the Iraq war and the economic crisis.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [Images], who had launched an all-out effort for the passage of the bill in the US Congress, visited India on a day-long trip on October 4, but the deal was not signed during her visit.

India has made it clear that it will sign the 123 Agreement to operationalise the deal with the US only after Bush signs the bill.

India expects that a statement from Bush while signing the legislation will address its concerns over certain provisions of the 123 Agreement.




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