US promises to move ahead on nuke deal with India

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Washington, Jul 23 (UNI) The Bush Administration has promised to move ahead on the US-India civil nuclear agreement immediately after the Manmohan Singh government had won a vote of confidence in Lok Sabha.

"The next step in this process is India's safeguards agreement to be approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA's) Board of Governors. And we look forward to an August meeting of the board and strongly support approval of the agreement at that time," said State Department's Acting Deputy Spokesman Gonzalo R Gallegos yesterday.

Mr Gallegos affirmed that if the agreement- or if the safeguards agreement is approved by the IAEA, and if the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) gives India a waiver, after that, it will have to be approved by the US Congress.

While asked about the Bush Administration's plan to take the deal forward in Congress, he said "we're going to be communicating to the Hill [Congress] how important we believe this measure is for the United States, how important we believe that this strategic partnership will be for India, for us, and for others concerned with security around the world." "I understand that the calendar is tight. But we do look forward to moving forward with this, and we'll do so as quickly as we can," he added.

State Department's Acting Deputy Spokesman said the Bush Administration will work with the lawmakers here to move forward with the agreement signed in 2006 by President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The US would go ahead step by step. The next step would be at the IAEA meeting on July 25.

He said the US was in discussion with IAEA board members. Some are still reviewing the safeguards agreement. "My understanding is the Secretary will be given a technical briefing on the agreement in the coming days, and we'll see how we'll proceed from there," Mr Gallegos said.

Earlier, White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino said "this idea of a US-India civil nuclear arrangement is a good one for everybody.

It's good for India because it would help provide them a source for energy that they need, one that is non-polluting and one that doesn't emit greenhouse gas emissions." Asked whether the US President would call Prime Minister Singh to discuss the agreement, he said, "I don't know if he needs to make a call since they just spoke about two weeks ago when they were at the G8 meeting -- and they had a very good bilateral meeting -- and meetings on the side, as well, during the outreach meetings that the G8 held." "So I don't know if he necessarily needs to call since he just saw him and expressed his support. But I'll let you know if it changes," the spokeswoman said.

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