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'This is a big step we are taking with respect to India'

Had he won three million more votes than he did 14 months ago, he would not have been sitting in the Bell Tower suite at Mumbai's Taj Mahal hotel last Friday, taking questions on the India-United States nuclear accord which he surprisingly endorsed during his visit to New Delhi.

It is uncertain if indeed such an accord would have been signed had President John F Kerry -- not George W Bush -- had been in the White House. The United States senator has been one of America's aggressive champions of non-proliferation -- the campaign against the spread of nuclear weapons -- and some Indian strategic analysts had predicted rough times for India had he been elected President in November 2004.

In the event he did not become President and the man who defeated him -- as National Security Adviser M K Narayanan told us last August -- has made it his personal mission to take the India-US relationship to a new high.

With the nuclear accord -- which has unfortunately become a symbol for the transformed India-US relationship -- confronting rough passage in the American parliament -- the US Congress, comprising the House of Representatives and the Senate -- the Manmohan Singh government was no doubt anxious to win an influential Senator like Kerry over to its side to enhance India's case before Congress.

Senator Kerry may have backed the accord at a press conference in New Delhi last Thursday, but as he told Nikhil Lakshman India needs to do much more before Congress ratifies the nuclear agreement. A frank, exclusive interview with rediff India Abroad. Photographs: Dominic Xavier.

Also Read: 'We will decide how many bombs we want'
Indo-US nuclear treaty: A good deal

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