|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Bush administration hopeful of N-deal completion
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | December 06, 2006 04:56 IST
Last Updated: December 06, 2006 10:21 IST
The Bush administration is optimistic that the lawmakers would address the concerns expressed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal to the key protagonists. The Congress adjourns for the year by the end of the week.
Rice's concerns were over the bills in their current form. India believed this was a case of 'moving the goal-posts.'
The Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher, briefing journalists on Tuesday, said Rice has been "making some calls," and that her letters to members that "reflect" the Administration and India's concerns, were "being taken seriously," and hopefully some change in language would alleviate these concerns when the final legislation is worked out. He couldn't however predict if it would be completed by the end of the week.
"Everybody wants to see the legislation passed," Boucher said, and added, "Everybody we've talked to on the Hill has worked very hard to try and accomplish that."
When asked by rediff.com if the language and reporting requirements in the specific sections like 105, 106 and 107 that India had a major problem with would be changed or eliminated to alleviate New Delhi's concerns, Boucher reiterated, "They are taking the Secretary's letter seriously and I guess the only way I can deal with the specific sections is to tell you that there are sections in this bill that people on the Hill feel very strongly about."
He said, "We've found a certain flexibility, a certain willingness to look at other ways in expressing these views. Expressing a sense without binding or intruding upon the ability to carry out the agreement," as negotiated between India and the United States as spelled out in the July 18, 2005 US-India Joint Statement and the March 3, 2006 statement following President Bush's visit to New Delhi.
He said the administration had also been providing ideas to deal with some of these concerns in a way that could be acceptable to all parties in order to ensure that the agreement would not start coming apart.
However, Boucher indicated that India would probably have to live with the reporting requirements as contained in the House and Senate bills, likely to be reinforced in the compromise legislation that emerges from conference, and should be happy that there are no conditions attached to the requirements, as far as he reads it.
"I think all of us understand there will be reporting requirements. Congress always expects the administration to keep them informed about things. We try to do that, we try to do that regularly."
Consequently, Boucher said, "No one should get too upset or surprised that Congress expects us to report on a lot of things, that's pretty normal."
"But I know what India is concerned about in some cases that reporting requirements seem to indicate there is conditionality involved. But I don't think there's any conditionality."
Boucher indicated that these conditions would kick in only if the terms of the agreement were found to have been violated by the annual presidential certifications required by Congress, but as he sees it there were no ironclad conditions in the bills adopted overwhelmingly by both the House and Senate.
"There are none," he said, and reiterated, "We report on dozens of things all around the world. We are happy to do that."