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India-US nuclear deal on track

29 May, 2006

WASHINGTON: The India-US nuclear deal appears to be on track with the Bush administration hopeful of moving forward with necessary legislation in the US Congress this spring and summer after two key negotiators met in London this week to address a few sticky points.

"I think that they were able to tie up a couple of loose ends concerning things that the Indian government owed the United States in order to really move forward on this deal," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said here after the London meeting between Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and the US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns.

"We think it’s an important deal: it’s good for the US, it’s good for India, it’s good for the world," he said, underlining the fact that the White House and the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were "deeply involved" in moving the process forward, IANS reported.

The Capitol Hill seat of Congress had witnessed a lot of talks and briefings as also hearings on the nuclear deal in recent weeks with Burns too talking to senators and representatives about how to structure the proposed legislation and how to bring it up for a vote, McCormack said.

"Our hope is that we can work with Congress on the structure of the legislation in such a way that they’re comfortable, answer the questions that they may have about the legislation, and then work through these issues this spring and summer," he said.

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has commended the India-US nuclear deal to the US congress describing it as a "win-win agreement" and hoping the Congress too would see in that light.

"To me, this is a win-win agreement and I hope it will be also for Congress," he said after a meeting in Washington with the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss among other things how to make sure that India became a partner in the nonproliferation framework.

Rice noted that Dr. ElBaradei had been very supportive about the India-US nuclear deal. She said they had talked about the deal "not because he is trying to intervene in US-Indian relations, but as we have talked about it because we need to broaden our concept of nonproliferation regime in order to deal with anomalies like the Indian situation".

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