Bush sees nuke accord as strengthening of strategic partnership

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Washington, Oct 3 (UNI) President George W Bush has said he look's forward to signing the bill containing the US-India nuclear agreement into law and ''continuing to strengthen the strategic partnership'' between the two countries.

Mr Bush, who issued a statement yesterday, welcoming the Congressional approval of the land-mark nuclear accord, however, did not indicate as to when he intends to sign the bill.

He said the agreement would ''strengthen our global nuclear non-proliferation efforts, protect the environment, create jobs, and assist India in meeting its growing energy needs in a responsible manner.'' US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, ''We believe that the relationship between the US and India is on a very firm footing, and that can only be good for democracy and it can only be good for the world.'' ''Obviously, this has been Dr Singh and Mr Bush's vision to have this agreement cement and be one of the cornerstones of our relationship,'' she said.

Ms Rice said, ''This is also a friendship that is based on values, one that is based on ties, people-to-people ones, including the 80,000 or so Indian students who study in the US.'' She made these observations at an impromptu reception she had yesterday to celebrate Congressional approval of the US-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act.

Prominent among those who attended the reception included Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Christopher Dodd, who managed the bill on the floor of the Senate, Republican Congressman Ed Royce and diplomat Raminder Singh Jassal, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Indian Embassy.

Mr Jassal paid a tribute to Ms Rice's leadership in the passage of the agreement. ''As, Madame Secretary, you said, the Civil Nuclear Initiative is one aspect of Indo-US ties. But because it represents such a change and transformation, it became emblematic of the new relationship. So we are at the end of the process and at the beginning of deeper cooperation,'' he said.

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