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N-deal: 'India's concerns have been met'

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | October 09, 2008 13:13 IST

Describing the US President's signing into law the legislation on the nuclear deal as a 'new beginning' in bilateral ties, India has said its concerns on certain provisions of the bill have been met with George W Bush's [Images] assurance on fuel supplies and 'advanced consent' to it for reprocessing.

"Absolutely", remarked Indian Ambassador to the US, Ronen Sen, when asked by reporters if the President's address at the signing of the legislation met all of India's concerns.

"I think the statement (of Bush) speaks for itself. All concerns that have been expressed who fear the implications of certain elements of the legislation. All those have been met,"

Sen said in response to a query on fuel supply assurances.

Bush, while signing the HR 7081 bill into law on Wednesday night, had said there were 'no changes' in fuel supply commitments as provided in the 123 Agreement and added India had also been granted 'advanced consent' for reprocessing.

There were fears that the legislation as approved by the Congress may have a couple of riders regarding fuels supplies.

"I am confident because we negotiated the 123 Agreement with great care and I was confident right from the beginning that many of concerns that had been expressed would be met like they have been in the past," the top Indian envoy said shortly after Bush signed the nuclear deal Bill into law.

The top Indian diplomat was pressed on about the fear that Washington could approach others in the Nuclear Suppliers Group to cut off fuel in the event of an atomic test by India.

"I think we can keep on having questions and discussions repeatedly. I feel we should be a little more confident of ourselves. We should have a little bit more self esteem and we should not always require these re-assurances. We should grow up. I feel this very strongly," Sen replied.

"This President has exceeded our expectations on each and every issue. I firmly believe this President has contributed in an extraordinary manner. He would be remembered in history as opening up a new chapter in our relationship," Sen said.

The Indian envoy said the ties between the countries have now truly transformed into a strategic partnership in 'every sense of the word'.

"This is a beginning in a way. It is a successful conclusion of a process that had often been tortuous and some people had doubts at times -- genuine doubts and genuine concerns. And there has been a debate in our country which has been a serious debate. But at the end of it we have in a sense reached a conclusion of this process," the Ambassador said.

"We are not quite there. The final will be the signing of this agreement which will essentially represent commitments of the two countries," Sen said. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will sign the agreement on Friday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [Images] at the State department.

"This is a new beginning where we will have a door opened, which will lead to more doors and windows of opportunity and that process will continue. In that sense there is much we can do to build upon this agreement which will provide us new opportunities in the field of energy that will not only address our energy security concern but also mark the end of a broader technology denial regime that has been in place for more than three decades," Ambassador Sen said.

"So in that sense both in the bilateral context and the global context it opens up many new avenues. All these will directly benefit the people of India and contribute to the well being of all citizens of our country," he added.

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