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'It's the greatest moment in Indian-American political history'

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | October 02, 2008 16:12 IST

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The Indian-American community and the US business lobby, led by the US-India Business Council, that have been catalytic in mobilizing Congressional support for the US-India civilian nuclear deal, were justifiably elated over the thumping 86-13 approval for the agreement by the US Senate Wednesday night.


Swadesh Chatterjee, coordinator of the US-India Friendship Council, an umbrella coalition of Indian American political, community and professional organizations, that was formed over two years ago solely for the purpose of pushing the deal through in Congress, said, "Today, we celebrate the greatest moment in Indian-American political history with the final ratification of the US-India nuclear deal by the US Congress."


"The passage by the United States Senate was the last step in securing this historic accord," he said, and predicted that President Bush would be signing the agreement in a White House ceremony in the upcoming weeks.


Chatterjee said the US-India Friendship Council had "a lot to be proud of, and I salute each one of you for your leadership," and recalled, "When we started this journey three years ago, no one thought that the deal would get through the US Congress."


"But the skeptics underestimated the respect and influence of the Indian American community," he said.


Chatterjee declared, "I have never been prouder of being an Indian American than today. I know what we have achieved will leave a positive legacy for all our children. They will be able to proudly be Indian American and achieve their dreams. They will live in a world where the United States and India are the two greatest allies."


"We have done our part, my friends," he said. "We have done our duty for America, and for India, our motherland. I will always remember those who stood with me in this cause, and I look forward to many more victories together for strengthening US-India relations."


Ashok Mago, among the protagonists of the Indian American activists who pushed for support of the deal among US lawmakers, and delivered virtually all of the lawmakers from Texas where he lives, said, "Mission accomplished. It feels great. We are elated.


Echoing the sentiments of Chatterjee, he said, "Indian Americans should be proud of their contributions to make this happen."


"A successful conclusion to a long journey full of peaks and valleys with many challenges on the way, each making us more determined to succeed."


Mago said, "What a gift to our country on Mahatma Gandhi's [Images] birthday."


The Indian American Republican Council, in celebrating the Senate approval of the agreement said, "Final passage in the Senate secures a much-deserved foreign policy victory for President George Bush [Images]."


IARC spokesman Dino Teppara said, "Along with the architect of this agreement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [Images], President Bush has fundamentally altered the landscape of Asia for years to come."


"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] with his statesmanlike leadership has taken US-India bilateral relations to new heights," and showered kudos on him and President Bush "for their perseverance in seeing this agreement through many obstacles to a successful conclusion."


The USIBC in hailing what it described as "a historic vote," said, "It ends 34 years of a 'technology denial regime' imposed against India, opening a wide vista of opportunity for US-India collaboration in commerce, civil nuclear research, technology transfer and nuclear fuel supply-- essential inputs to power India's dynamic, fast-growing economy."


Ron Somers, president of USIBC predicted, "The benefits will be many and the impact profound, beckoning a new era in US-India relations."


He said, "By enabling US-India civil nuclear cooperation, India not only joins the international nuclear nonproliferation mainstream, but now has the opportunity to achieve energy security, while protecting the global environment."


Somers spoke of the "massive scope for commercial opportunity between the US and Indian companies," and put the value of this envisaged trade "at more than $150 billion over the next 30 years."


He said it would spur "a revival of the nuclear power industries of both countries that will create as many as a quarter million high technology jobs for generations to come."




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