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It is all upto the Congress now: Burns
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | March 11, 2006 17:34 IST
Confirming rediff India Abroad's exclusive report with specific details of the draft proposal submitted by the Bush Administration to the Congressional leadership on Thursday to help shape legislation for the passage of the US-India civilian nuclear agreement, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns has said it is now up to the Congress to decide what it would like to do.
Talking to media persons after addressing the Coalition for the Partnership with India -- a joint body of the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-India Business Council formed to help push through the nuclear deal -- Burns said that during his meetings with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar and House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, he had delivered this draft proposal with some ideas on how this legislation could be written.
Burns, who disclosed that this was done at the request of Congress, however, emphasized that, "We have to respect the prerogatives of Congress, but we are suggesting India-specific amendments to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954."
"It is up to the Congressional leadership to determine how they want to go forward. That is their decision. We respect the separation of powers, but we have given some ideas to the Congress as to how this could happen. We had very good meetings this week," he reiterated.
"The Congress will ultimately decide what it wants to do," he said, adding, "We are not seeking relief from US law for any country in the world except India. We do not anticipate putting any other country forward. So it is India-specific."
Confirming yet another component of the draft submission provided to the Congress that was exclusively and comprehensively reported by rediff India Abroad, Burns said, "Yes, part of the draft submission, also calls for a nuclear cooperation agreement with India."
Complete Coverage: Indo-US Nuclear Tango
"It is a bilateral agreement that India and the United States negotiate together. It is going to be largely a technical agreement, because we have already resolved the outstanding issues," he explained.
"The envisaged US-India nuclear cooperation pact will reflect the negotiations that we have concluded last week. So we expect to be able to come to conclusion in the next several weeks," Burns noted.
He also expressed confidence that the administration hoped to conclude the agreement before May this year so that it could go to the Nuclear Suppliers Group with a duly approved deal by Congress. A congressional approval will leverage consensus for the agreement in the NSG.