Manmohan Singh to meet Bush as nuke deal is down to the wire

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New York, Sept 25 : Prime Minster Dr. Manmohan Singh will meet U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington this evening, even as the suspense over the passing of the Indo-U.S. civil nuclear deal in the U.S. Congress continues.

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday voted 19-2 in favor of the deal. The bill has been sent to the full Congress for a vote. It has been presently tabled in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Reports suggest that some changes have been introduced into the text of the Senate Bill.

The Senate Bill reportedly states that United States will prevent the transfer of nuclear material technology if India conducts a nuclear test.

It also says that the U.S.-India civil nuclear deal will be subject to the provisions of the Hyde Act and other American laws.

Negotiations are still on between officials of the two sides, with India clearly stating its reservations to the United States.

It is being reported that a final statement by President George Bush can override the change in the language of the Senate Bill.

India has maintained that changes in the language of the Senate Bill is an internal matter of the United States, and that it will be solely guided and bound by the 123 agreement.

If passed, the Bill will end an over three-decade ban on US nuclear trade with India. The White House sees the deal as the cornerstone of a new strategic partnership with New Delhi.

The Congress, which is preoccupied with the Bush bail out package to overcome the domestic financial crisis, may approve the agreement, before Dr Singh's high powered working dinner with Bush today.

However, official sources made it clear that the Prime Minister will not be signing the 123 agreement during his meeting with Bush, even if it is approved by Congress.

The agreement will be signed formally by either the External Affairs Minister or at the official level.

Besides the nuke deal, issues like high-tech cooperation, agriculture, education and defence ties will figure prominently in Singh-Bush talks. By Naveen Kapoor

ANI

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