Washington, Feb.14 : U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee here that any exemptions granted to India by the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in connection with the U.S.-India civil nuclear cooperation pact, will be consistent with the Hyde Act.
"We will support nothing with India in the NSG that is in contradiction to the Hyde Act. It will have to be completely consistent with the obligations of the Hyde Act," Rice told the committee.
Rice said if the Bush administration did not adhere to the Hyde Act, lawmakers would eventually refuse to pass the US-India civilian nuclear deal if and when it comes up for discussion in the Congress.
"We'll have to be consistent with the Hyde Act or I don't believe we can count on the Congress to make the next step," Rice said in response to a query from the Chairman of the panel, Joseph Biden.
Biden said the Act, passed in 2006, "terminates US nuclear cooperation with India if New Delhi resumes nuclear testing", and also "restricts the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies".
"I'm concerned about the NSG. As I understand it, the US representative to that body has circulated a clean exemption for India that doesn't reflect any of the restrictions contained in the Hyde Act," Biden said.
Rice, who was presenting the State Department's last budget under her secretaryship, also dwelled on the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
She said that though the situation in Iraq is difficult, Washington is beginning to see security improvements.
"We're starting to see the Iraqis rebuilding their country and developing a young political system to deal with their differences. The reconciliation is taking place from the bottom up," she said.
On the situation in Afghanistan, she said the NATO-led military operations have so far not gone off as well as one would have expected, and as far as the reconstruction efforts were concerned, they frankly were not as coherent as they need to be.
"We are searching now for an envoy who can help to bring coherence to that international effort because we now understand that in counter-insurgency you have to defeat the enemy, keep him from coming back and then give the population reason to believe in a better future. I believe that the Afghan project is making progress. The situation is better than some reports. It is not as good as it needs to be," said Rice.
On the question of cooperation in the energy sector, she described it as a really important part of diplomacy.
"I think I would go so far as to say that some of the politics of energy is warping diplomacy in certain parts of the world, and I do indeed intend to appoint and we are looking for a special energy coordinator who could especially spend time on the Central Asian and Caspian region," she said.
The other issues on which Secretary Rice focussed were U.S. foreign assistance to other countries, especially i the Latin American and African region, improving the profile and range of responsibilities of the State Department so that it could meet its myriad challenges, budget request for the Civilian Response Corps, support for increases in funding for public diplomacy and a request for a substantial increase in the number of Foreign Service officers and USAID officers.