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N-deal: Petroleum minister meets key US officials

Last updated on: April 05, 2006 11:40 IST

Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora held discussions on the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal in Washington with two key US lawmakers, including Gary Ackerman, House International Relations Committee member and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans.

Complete Coverage: Indo-US Nuclear Tango

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Gary Ackerman, the two bipartisan heads of the Caucus, hosted a discussion on Tuesday with the petroleum minister on how the proposed Indo-US civilian nuclear deal would impact India's demand for oil.

The discussions also focused on a proposed natural-gas pipeline project with Iran and the affect of the project on India's future demands on oil. With the Indo-US civilian nuclear-deal legislation referred to the International Relations Committee, the panel will now play an essential role in whether the bill comes to the House floor for a final vote, whether there will be amendments, which the administration has said would jeopardise the deal, and whether it is ultimately approved.

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Ackerman, who supports the deal, is understood to have told Deora that several lawmakers would support the deal once its details are presented to them in a transparent manner, according to Congressional sources.

Although details of the discussions were not available, participants included members of the House Caucus on India and Indian Americans, the sources said.

'Bush did not consult Congress over N-deal'

Meanwhile India's top nuclear scientist and chief of the Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar will be in Vienna this week to discuss an India specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Kakodkar's discussions are understood to be a pre-cursor to an Indo-US-IAEA trilateral agreement on nuclear supplies.

Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal is in Washington on a week-long US trip. During the visit, he will launch the Indo-US Biotech Working Group and discuss the formation of an Indo-US science and technology commission.