Condoleeza Rice in Delhi, delay in signing 123 pact

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New Delhi, Oct 4 : US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice arrived here on a two-day visit but the 123 civilian nuclear agreement will not be signed today.

During her visit, Rice will hold talks with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on bilateral and regional issues, and also on ways to take the bilateral strategic partnership further. She will also hold talks with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

The two sides had initially earmarked 2 pm as the tentative time for signing of the 123 Agreement, but procedural issues like delay in US President George W Bush signing the legislation passed by the Congress into law, forced the signing of the deal to be called off.

The Indian side is inclined to see Bush first sign the legislation into law as it expects the US President's accompanying statement to clarify certain aspects, particularly fuel assurance supply, that have created apprehensions.

On Thursday, the United States Senate approved the landmark Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

The 100-member US Senate approved the Indo-US nuclear deal paving the way for its operationalisation. While 86 Senators voted for the deal, 13 opposed it. The US Senate approved the legislation on the deal four days after the US House of Representatives passed the agreement by a clear majority (298-117 votes). Earlier, the agreement was expected to be signed by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and US President George W Bush during the former's recent visit to Washington. Last month, the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) of countries that supply nuclear material and technology agreed to lift the ban on civilian nuclear trade with India after contentious talks and some concessions to countries fearful it could set a dangerous precedent. As per procedure, after the Congressional approval, the Bill had to be passed by the Senate for final clearance, and then the US President will sign it into law.

ANI

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