Delhi has bipartisan support in US: Menon

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New York, Sep 26 (UNI) India enjoys support for its causes from both sides of the aisle -- Democrats and Republicans, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon has said.

Mr Menon reminded that not only the current Bush administration, but John McCain and Barack Obama, the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees respectively, have expressed support for boosting bilateral relations.

''There is bipartisan support for this deal,'' he told a news briefing here last night when he spoke about the meeting in the White House between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George Bush.

However, the Foreign Secretary, who flew to New York straight from the White House meeting, refused to be drawn into a discussion as to when exactly the Indo-US nuclear energy agreement would be consummated.

''We don't set deadlines and through this process, we have set no time frame,'' he said. He was, however, confident that the deal would be passed by the US Congress very soon.

Asked whether the apparent delay in US approval for the deal would put American companies at a disadvantage, Mr Menon said US nuclear energy supplying firms would not lose when compared with their counterparts in France or Russia and said it was only an ''economic competitiveness.'' India is also considering taking nuclear energy cooperation from both Paris and Moscow, and it is expected the subject would come up during talks between Dr Singh and French President Nicolas Sarkozy when they meet in the next few days.

On the Singh-Bush parleys, Mr Menon said the meeting lasted nearly two and a half hour, which included an informal working dinner.

Apart from the nuclear deal, subjects such as health care, high tech and education figured in the bilateral talks. Regional, international and Doha round of trade, besides the financial turmoil also figured in the discussions. Strengthening of India's role in Afghanistan came up prominently.

''It was a very positive meeting and it had something of a valedictory tone,'' Mr Menon said, alluding to the situation in which both leaders are ending their present terms of office in the next few months.

To a question, he said the issues of India getting a UN permanent seat or the expansion of the Security Council did not come up in the talks.


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