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US lawmakers discuss Indo-US N-deal
November 17, 2005 11:34 IST
Senior lawmakers have said that though it may be 'perfectly appropriate' for the United States Congress to include conditionalities as part of a legislation being considered on the civilian nuclear agreement with India, the larger question to be asked is whether the benefits of adding the impositions would outweigh the costs.
In his opening statement to the House International Relations Committee hearing on 'US-India Global Partnership: How significant for American interests', Democrat Gary Ackerman noted there are already many serious and difficult conditions contained in the July 18 joint agreement, signed between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush, that both India and the US would have to meet.
"It's perfectly appropriate for the Congress to include the conditions in the joint statement as part of the legislation we consider, but I have yet to be persuaded that the benefit of adding additional conditions would outweigh their cost," Ackerman, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans and a senior member of the House International Relations Panel, said at the hearing.
As long as the US administration is forthcoming with information on Indian progress, members of Congress will be able to decide for themselves that India is working to keep its commitments, even as we are working to keep ours, he said.
"Indeed, I think that if we add additional conditions that the Government of India had previously rejected during the negotiations, the result will be not only scuttling the agreement itself, but significant, and I think lasting damage to the US-India relationship," Ackerman added.
The Chair of the Committee, Congressman Henry Hyde, while noting that the Bush administration did not discuss the deal with the US Congress before it was announced, stressed that this arrangement is likely to prove of 'more modest consequence and it is best understood as a useful and long overdue clarifications of relations, including clearing away the thicket of unnecessary encumberances that have grown up over the years'.
The Illinois Republican noted that the 'cramped dogmas of the past' and the distorted views of Indian interests are giving way to a more confident vision of India and its rising status as a major player in world politics.
Democrat Congressman Tom Lantos talked of how the July agreement brought forth a 'new strategic relationship' between the US and India and said he was confident the deal would ultimately be approved on its merits 'as a whole'.
Complimenting India for taking a tough decision on the Iran issue in September, Lantos told the hearing that New Delhi's continued support to the United States was required to keep Iran 'from developing the means to implement Iranian terrorist-in-chief' Ahmadinejad's desire to 'wipe Israel off the map'.