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PM speaks to President Bush about N-deal

Last updated on: November 16, 2006 19:57 IST

Sending a positive signal ahead of the Senate taking up the bill on Indo-US nuclear deal, President George W Bush telephoned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday and said he was 'hopeful' of the US Congress moving forward with the measure.

On his part, Dr Singh, during the five-minute conversation, expressed appreciation of Bush's commitment to the passage of the legislation and hoped that the 'bill in its final form will accomodate India's stated concerns', his media advisor Sanjaya Baru said.

"The President told the prime minister he was hopeful Congress will move forward with the measure," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe, who is accompanying Bush on his Asian tour, said in Singapore.

"The President reiterated his support for the passage of the US-India civilian nuclear deal," he said adding Bush had a 'good conversation' with Dr Singh.

Baru said the conversation provided an opportunity for both leaders to exchange views on current matters.

"They discussed the legislation relating to the India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation understanding," he said.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the state of Indo-US bilateral relations, he said.

There are apprehensions that the Democrats, who secured a majority in the US Congress in mid-term elections earlier this month, might raise objections to block the deal.

Bush has assured India that the parameters laid down in the joint statement of July 18, 2005, the Separation Plan and the March 2 agreement were the guiding factors in giving final shape to the legislation that the US Congress will adopt.

The US President had also sought to allay apprehensions in India of fresh conditionalities, saying then that there will be no shifting of goalposts.

India has made it known to the US that it cannot take any more commitments that are not explicitly stated in the earlier statements.

Voting on the legislation in the Senate was stalled following last minute objections raised by Senator Kent Conrad.

Dr Singh has assured Parliament that there will be no capping of India's strategic programme and that the integrity of 'our nuclear doctrine and our ability to sustain a minimum credible nuclear deterrent' were adequately protected under the plan to separate civilian and military nuclear facilities.

The July 18 joint statement reached after talks between Dr Singh and Bush in Washington opened frontiers of civil nuclear cooperation with India.

The March 2 document firmed up during the US President's visit outlined the Separation Plan under which India agreed to identify and offer 14 of its 22 thermal power reactors for IAEA safeguards.

The US House of Representatives has approved the bill, which is now being discussed in the lame duck session of the Senate.

Once the Senate approval is given, the US Congress will reconcile the two bills to forge a legislation for implementing the deal.

Facing intense Opposition questioning, Dr Singh had in July assured Parliament that 'if the US legislative process leads to an end product which is not consistent with what we have committed, that would be the determining factor of what we can do with it'.

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