Bush Admin hopes of nuke deal winning congressional approval

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Washington, Sep 20 (UNI) The Bush Administration hopes that the US-India nuclear cooperation agreement will win Congressional approval on the last day of its current session on September 26, a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's arrival here.

Dr Singh will meet President Bush at the latter's invitation at the White House on September 25. Later, he will proceed to New York to attend the US General Assembly session.

''We do believe that there's significant support in Congress that would allow us to get this (agreement) through,'' White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino said in reply to a question yesterday.

Perino said, ''I hope that they would be able to get it done next week. And one of the reasons Dr Singh will come to the White House is to help push that over the line so that we can get it done.'' The Spokeswoman promised to keep the media updated and also ''see if there's anything more to add. I would encourage you to check with the Senate to see if they have it on the schedule.'' Meanwhile, at a Congressional hearing, US Undersecretary of State William Burns urged lawmakers to approve the agreement before the House and Senate adjourn next week ahead of November presidential elections.

But some of them still have reservations about the accord fearing that the provision of extra fuel in the agreement could boost India's nuclear arsenal by freeing up its domestic uranium for weapons.

Undersecretary Burns, in reply, said that ''there is no perfect guarantee, as you know. But our conviction is that by moving in this direction, we are deepening the incentive for India to focus on civilian nuclear energy and deepening its incentive to continue to move into the mainstream of the non-proliferation regime.'' In a reply to another question, Burns said, ''while India maintains a sovereign right to test, we most certainly maintain a sovereign right to respond. We believe the Indian government intends to uphold the continuation of the test moratorium it committed to in 2005.'' UNI XC NC CS0948

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