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We are working overtime on Hyde amendment: US

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | September 09, 2008 01:18 IST

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Indo-US Nuclear Tango

Admitting that time is limited for the Congress to ratify the civil nuclear deal with India, the US has said it is rapidly working on the Hyde amendment package to be submitted to the Congress, with the administration "committed" to moving the deal forward.

"As we speak, we have people working on that package that is required by the so-called Hyde amendment package. So we are busily working on that. We, the US government, in preparing to submit that to the Congress," State Department spokesperson McCormack said in his briefing.

"Admittedly, the time here is short, and there's a brief window before Congress goes out of session. As you've heard from the secretary, as well as from the White House, this administration is committed to trying to move that agreement forward," McCormack added.

The spokesman maintained that senior members of Congress including the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Howard Berman and the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Joseph Biden have also been spoken to.

"We're going to do everything we can to hold up our end of the bargain," he added.

Looking to push for an early ratification of the landmark Indo-US civil nuclear agreement, the White House plans to submit the 'Hyde Package' to the Congress early this week, with the goal of forcing an up-down vote by September 26, a Wall Street report had said.

Asked to comment on the concerns of American businesses that other countries might get an upper hand in trading with India under the nuclear agreement, McCormack renewed the American demand for a level playing field in trade.

"Fundamentally, we want a level playing field for American business. We believe that American business, if allowed to compete on a level playing field, is more than capable of winning its share of business around the world, more than capable of winning its contracts around the world, regardless of whether it's a nuclear energy or any other industry," the spokesman added.

On whether the administration was taken aback by China's opposition to the energy waiver at the Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting in Vienna [Images], McCormack said the nuclear cartel had approved the move by consensus and China did not finally stand in its way.

"I'll let the Chinese government speak to their views about the diplomatic process in Vienna, but the NSG operates by consensus, and since everybody agreed to allow this to move forward, one can deduce that the Chinese at least didn't stand in the way of it moving forward," McCormack replied.

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