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India's step forward on N-deal pleases US

Manash Pratim Bhuyan | July 24, 2008 08:59 IST

United States has congratulated the United Progressive Alliance government, which won the trust vote in the Lok Sabha, for its 'deep resolve' to go ahead with the historic Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [Images] met Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma late Wednesday night on the sidelines of ASEAN ministerial meet in Singapore.

The leaders had a 'very good' meeting during which Rice appreciated India's 'resolve to go ahead with the historic nuclear deal', highly-placed sources told PTI.

They discussed the 'entire gamut of issues' relating to the deal and the two leaders will again meet on Thursday, the sources said.

Sharma is heading the Indian delegation to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations of which New Delhi is a dialogue partner.

During the ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting attended by Sharma, the regional grouping said they welcomed the Indo-US agreement, which would ensure energy security for India and hoped the countries would be able to conclude the pact soon.

After the government won the confidence motion on Tuesday night, the US had said it will work with Indian government to expedite the processes at IAEA and 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group for an exemption for nuclear commerce.

An Indian delegation will later this week travel to various NSG countries to muster support for the nuclear deal, particularly focusing on nations which have had reservations so far on allowing exemption to India.

The government expects the IAEA Board of Governors to approve the India-specific safeguards agreement during its meeting scheduled for August one.

After the approval from the atomic watchdog, India will have to get a waiver by consensus from NSG to allow it to have civil nuclear cooperation with the international community.

The delegation includes ministers Kapil Sibal, Prithviraj Chavan and Anand Sharma besides National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and other officials of the Ministry of External Affairs.

India is lobbying hard to get support of NSG countries with regard to the deal. Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith Australia yesterday hinted at supporting India's case at the NSG during his meet with Sharma.

Condoleezza Rice, who is on a tour, will also be talking to leaders of Australia, New Zealand [Images] and other countries to garner support among the IAEA and Nuclear Suppliers Group members.

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