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India, US clinch Nuclear deal

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 2 (UNI) India and the US today clinched the historic Civilian Nuclear Energy Agreement after months of thorny negotiations and agreed to jointly fight terrorism and promote democracy in the world.

That ended speculation on whether the deal between the two countries, signed in July 2005 in Washington, would come through.

US President George Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced at a joint news conference here that they had reached a ''mutually satisfactory understanding'' on the nuclear separation plan (separation of India's civilian and military nuclear programmes) which had been successfully completed.

''We have reached a mutually satisfactory understanding with regard to carrying forward the process. An important step forward is the separation plan. That has been successfully completed. Now it is for the US to go to the Congress for necessary amends to the US laws and the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

We have to go to the International Atomic Energy Agency for India-specific safeguards,'' the Prime Minister said in reply to a question.

President Bush described the deal as an ''historic agreement'' saying it had not been easy for him as well as the Prime Minister to reach an understanding on the deal which would benefit both the countries.

Asked how would he convince the Congress back home, the US President said relations between the two countries were changing dramatically.

''It is a changing relationship and part of that is the nuclear deal,'' he said adding that as a developing economy, India has a growing demand for energy.

''We can reduce demand for fossil fuels. That is what I will be telling the Congress.'' He, however, said nuclear proliferation remained a concern.

The finalisation of the nuclear deal was the centre-piece of the US President's three-day visit to India even though both sides had taken pains to suggest that the visit had a broader agenda.

Under the agreement, which has seen strong opposition from some members of the US Congress and some political circles in India, New Delhi will separate its civilian and military nuclear programmes and place the civilian facilities under international safeguards.

The US will offer nuclear technology to India for civilian use to cater to its huge energy demands.

More UNI RB RP HT1530

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