Bush invites Manmohan for White House meeting

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Washington, Sep 12 (UNI) U S President George Bush has invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a meeting at the White House on September 25 and also urged Congress to approve the U S-India nuclear accord before it adjourns later this month to facilitate lifting of the 30-year-old global ban on the sale of nuclear technology to India.

"The President looks forward to working with Congress to ensure passage of the agreement this year," the White House said in a statement last night. The agreement seeks to scrap the sanctions imposed on India after it exploded its first nuclear device in the early 1970s.

The two leaders, who signed the the U S-India Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation (also known as the 123 Agreement) in July 2005, will push for its approval.

Bush sent the agreement to Wednesday to Congress with hopes that lawmakers will approve it quickly. Only weeks remain before Congress recesses for the year.

The conclusion of this agreement, which completes the U S-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative, has been a priority for both Bush and Dr Singh, and strengthens the U S-India Strategic Partnership, the statement said.

It said that this historic achievement would bolster international nonproliferation efforts, provide economic and business opportunities in both countries and help India address its growing energy needs in an environmentally responsible manner.

It said the President also looks forward to welcome Dr Singh to the White House on September 25, 2008, "to strengthen the Strategic Partnership and build upon our progress in other areas of cooperation, such as agriculture, education, trade, and defense." Meanwhile, in a written reply to a question about India's Adherence to the Nuclear Suppliers' Grup (NSG) and Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) guidelines, the State Department drew attention to Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee's Statement of September 5, in which he reinforced India's July 2005 Joint Statement commitments, underscoring that "India has taken the necessary steps to secure nuclear materials and technology through comprehensive export control legislation and through harmonization and committing to adhere to MTCR and NSG guidelines." "We also understand that India has sent letters to the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General and to the MTCR Point of Contact in Paris stating that it has adhered to the NSG and MTCR. We welcome these steps," the Department said.

It said that "India committed under the July 18, 2005 Joint Statement, which launched the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative, to harmonize its export controls with, and unilaterally adhere to the NSG and MTCR guidelines." UNI XC NC RN0724

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