Senate Committee approval raises hopes about nuke deal

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New York, Sep 24 (UNI) With the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) voting 19-2 in favour of the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement, the scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George Bush in Washington tomorrow can be expected to arrive at a conclusion.

''We are a step closer. Still some more hurdles have to be crossed even though the conclusion seems easier now,'' a senior official accompanying the Prime Minister said.

Although the Prime Minister has maintained nothing could be said for certain whether the two would conclude the deal tomorrow as the US Senate is pre-occupied with the current financial crisis, he was still hopeful.

The Prime Minister, who will make a ''working visit to Washington tomorrow for talks with President Bush at the White House'', will discuss various issues with him, including the civilian nuclear initiative.

However, it is still not clear whether the two countries would conclude the deal even after the SFRC approval yesterday.

The official said India was in no hurry. ''We have waited so long. We can wait longer...For us whether it is 25th, 26th or later, it does not matter.. we only hope that in the current financial crisis, the progress on the deal is not negated.'' The official said the Prime Minister and President Bush would not sign the deal. They could conclude the discussions and the final signatures could be made later at the Ministerial level.

The SFRC approval came after ''an original bill to approve the United States-India Agreement for Cooperation on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, and for other purposes'', was added to the agenda of the committee at the last minute.


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