PM heads for France on Sep 27

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New York, Sep 27: Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh will be heading to France on Saturday, Sep 27 for the India-European Union Summit at Marseille to be held on Monday, Sep 29 and bilateral India-France Summit meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday, Sep 30. The Prime Minister, who flew to Washington on Thursday, Sep 25 for a crucial meeting with US President George Bush, also addressed the UN General Assembly on Friday, Sep 26.

Although the civilian nuclear agreement could not be concluded at the meeting between the two leaders because of the absence of a Congressional nod, officials accompanying the Prime Minister maintained that it did not matter for India as ''it is bound to be signed anway sooner of later''.

The only apprehension, they said, was that the current economic crisis in the US should not negate the successes achieved so far.

In another development late last night, the US House of Representatives postponed the formal vote on the approval legislation for Nuke deal after a 40-minute debate.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman described the deal as a positive step towards strengthening relations between New Delhi and Washington.

He described the deal as a positive signal for the non-proliferation regime.

Eighteen speakers spoke on the Bill with some expressing concern that the agreement would flout the non-proliferation regime and hit hard the US moral high ground on nuclear non-proliferation.

They said it would encourage Pakistan, Iran and North Korea to start an arms race in the region.

A senior official of the External Affairs Ministry accompanying the Prime Minister, described the visit as ''successful'' saying that even though the deal could not be signed, it brought the two countries even closer.

''This (signing of the deal) was not the purpose of the Prime Minister's visit...In any case, Prime Ministers and Heads of State/Government do not sign agreements. These are signed by Ministers or at the official level,'' the official said

UNI

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