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Ensure India, US complete their journey: Rice

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | September 27, 2008 02:34 IST

As the Congress considers the Indo-US nuclear deal, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [Images] on Friday lent strong support to the agreement and said its passage will clear the way to 'deepen the strategic relationship' with India.

In a letter to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she said Congress has an 'unprecedented and historic opportunity' before it to ensure that the US and India 'complete the journey we began together three years ago'.

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'I am writing to express my strong support for the 'United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act',' Rice said in the letter that comes just hours after President George W Bush [Images] said his administration was 'working hard' to get deal passed 'as quickly as possible'.

The agreement marks the culmination of a decade-long process of India's emergence on the international stage and the Indian government's 'effort to steer a more pragmatic and realistic course in foreign affairs,' Rice wrote to Pelosi, who is a key player in getting the deal through.

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'For the United States, passage of this legislation will clear the way to deepen the strategic relationship with India,' Rice said in the letter dated September 26.

She also maintained that the agreement will open significant opportunities for American firms, help meet India's surging energy requirements in an environment-friendly manner, and bring India into the 'global nuclear non proliferation mainstream'.

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'We have an unprecedented and historic opportunity before us. With this legislation, Congress will help ensure that the United States and India complete the journey we began together three years ago, and ensure that US industry -- just like its international counterparts -- is able to engage with India on civil nuclear trade,' Rice told Speaker Pelosi.

Rice's letter came on the day when a fresh complication has come up by way of a Senator putting an anonymous 'hold', which must be removed before the Bill of Approval of the Indo-US Agreement moves in the Senate.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid's Office did not directly respond to a query from the PTI in this regard with a senior staffer only noting that the situation on the civilian nuclear agreement will get clearer as the day progresses.

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