Indo-US deal could happen in ''next couple of days'': State Dept

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Washington, Sep 25 (UNI) Hours before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George Bush are to hold talks, a senior State Department official today said the deal could happen in the ''next couple of days'' as the US Congress was pre-occupied with the financial crisis in the country.

US Ambassador to India, David Mulford, who had come to receive Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on the outskirts of Washington, told mediapersons that the deal could happen in the next couple of days.

However, he said he could not predict what would happen at today's meeting between Prime Minister Singh and President Bush.

''Whether it will happen now, can't be predicted...We are very positive but cannot predict...Signs so far are positive,'' he said.

He said it was a ''tribute'' to the US Congress that even though the country is battling financial crisis the Congress was moving ahead. ''...Nevertheless, they (US Congress) are moving ahead,'' he said.

''There is a reasonable prospect for action by the US Congress,..'It is not impossible. It could happen in the next couple of days,...we are very positive,'' he said.

Asked what would be discussed at the meeting between the Prime Minister and Mr Bush, Mr Mulford said all elements of the Indo-US relationsip, including the civilian nuclear initiative, would be discussed.

''The two will be discussing the overall relationship and not just the civilian nuclear initiative,'' Mr Mulford added.

''We will talk about all elements of the US-India relationship which includes cooperation in science and technology, agriculture, and other areas,'' he added.

He said it was a ''very, very important relationship between the two countries which is moving ahead''.

He described the Prime Minister's visit as a ''positive statement about the Indo-US relationship,'' and said the US had high expectations from the Prime Minister's visit.

Before the meeting between the Prime Minister and the US President at the White House, President Bush has a meeting with the Republican and Democrat Presidential Candidates John McCain and Barak Obama to discuss a 700 billion dollar bailout plan for US Companies to pull them out of the current financial mess.

Mr McCain, who was scheduled to meet the Prime Minister yesterday in New York, cancelled the meeting because of today's talks with President Bush for the bailout plan.

Earlier, the Prime Minister arrived at the Andrews Air Force Base and was received by Mr Mulford and several other senior officials of the State Department and the Indian embassy in Washington.

The Prime Minister will be joined at the talks by Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan and Prime Minister's Special Envoy Shyam Saran.

UNI RB PD BD0005

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