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Hyde Act not binding on India: US
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC
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April 24, 2008 09:57 IST

 The Bush administration's point man for South Asia, Richard Boucher, pressed by to clearly state for the record if India is bound by the Hyde Act or the bilateral 123 agreement, has said it is only the latter that is binding on India.

Boucher, who is the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, was asked by not to dodge the question but to clearly articulate which one was binding on India�the Hyde Act or the 123 agreement.  US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [Images] had recently assured the Congress that for the nuclear deal to be consummated, it has to be consistent with the Hyde Act.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, during his recent visit to Washington, declared that the Indian stand is clear and the nation is bound only by the 123 agreement.

"We don't see any inconsistency between the Hyde Act and the 123 agreement. The requirements of US law are requirements on us for us to meet. Just remember the essential function of the Hyde Act. The essential function of the Hyde Act is to allow this to happen�to empower us, to engender, to enable a nuclear deal with India, because otherwise, under the US law, we were prohibited from doing anything with India," Boucher explained.
 "The Hyde Act is what makes it possible to conclude this agreement. So that's what we have done. That's what the Hyde Act told us we could do, and we've gone out and done that," he added.
"We've done an agreement �the agreement binds the US and India once it's fully ratified and finished. But it's essentially the deal between the US and India and we don't see any inconsistency between what we were allowed to do and required to do under the Hyde Act, (which) was to negotiate," he said.
"Our posture as negotiators was consistent with the Hyde Act. And, therefore, we think that the deal that we negotiated is consistent with the Hyde Act," Boucher stressed
"But what binds India and the United States together is the 123 agreement, not the (Hyde) Act," he said..
During his visit to Washington, Singhvi had said that there is no way India's foreign policy will be congruent with the US policy, and described the Hyde Act as "clearly the biggest bug-bear�the red rag to a raging bull."
Singhvi recalled during an address at the Heritage Foundation�a conservative think tank in Washington-- "when the Hyde Act was signed into law, the US President had made explicit declarations that these parts of the Hyde Act are advisory and not binding."
He said the provisions in the Hyde Act, which has attracted strong opposition from the Left Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party, "obviously will not be congruent to any country's foreign policy."
"They may be reflections of the US foreign policy, but they are not necessarily congruent with other countries' foreign policy," he had said.
Referring to certain provisions of the Hyde Act, Singhvi said, "There is no way in which we can stop dealing with Iran. There is no way in which we can send troops to Iraq."
"There is no way in which these provisions are ever going to be accepted or implemented by India," Singhvi argued.
"As far as interpretation is concerned, they involve the US President's certification of compliance. That's internal to the United States, but certainly not Indian compliance directly," Singhvi added.

 Earlier, during his briefing, Boucher once again reiterated the administration's concern that time is running out on the nuclear deal. "The issue is that the election�our election imposes on us a certain calendar of bills that expire, people that change and outcomes that are less certain," he said.
He pointed out that chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Joe Biden, during his recent visit to New Delhi, had warned that time was running out.
Boucher said that Biden had told the Indian government, "Unless we can get this deal up to the Congress in June, so that we can deal with it in July, it's going to be really hard to get an approval from the Congress. Okay, that's just a fact of life in the United States�that's the Congressional calendar. We've got to get their approval to do this."
"So, every day that goes by makes it harder and harder and harder to get that done," he said."
Boucher acknowledged that "so we are, you know, still a bit worried about it all. But we're fully supportive�we respect the Indian democratic process, as they work through this. They'll be the ones to tell us when it is time to go to the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, when it is time to go to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and when we can get it to our Congress."
"But as I say," he reiterated, "every day that goes by makes it harder. But that is as much as we know right now."

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