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Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 2: India and the United States today announced that they had reached a ''mutually satisfactory understanding'' on the nuclear separation plan to implement the July 18, 2005 nuclear deal signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George Bush.

The separation plan ''has been successfully completed. It is now for the US to go to the Congress for necessary amendments in US laws and the nuclear suppliers group (NSG)'' to provide nuclear fuel to India, Dr Singh told reporters while addressing a joint press conference with Mr Bush after their talks here.

Dr Singh said ''we have to go to the IAEA for India specific safeguards'' for the civilian facilites that would be opened for inspections. ''We have made a very satisfactory progress and I thank the President for his initiatives'' without which it would not have been possible for the two countries to have reached a place where they were today.

Describing the nuclear deal as a ''historic agreement,'' Mr Bush said it has not been easy for Dr Singh and him to reach the understanding which would help ''both our people''.

Asked how he would secure the U S Congress' approval, he said as far as canvassing was concerned, he would try to convince the members that it was in ''our economic interest''.

India had started a way forward to ensure nuclear safeguards, he said and drew attention to the PM's announcement that New Delhi would go to IAEA.

Mr Bush said it was necessary to provide India access to alternative sources of energy because of the rising oil prices and dwindling fossil fuel reserves. Expressing satisfaction over the peace process between India and Pakistan that has been making ''progress on all issues, including Kashmir'', he appreciated the initiatives of Dr Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in this regard.

Mr Bush described as ''historic in nature'' his meeting with Dr Singh on July 18 last year and today. The meeting helped strengthen the foundations of peace, he said.

Asked to explain why the US, the oldest democracy, was not supporting India, the largest democracy in the world, in its bid for a permanent membership of the UN Security Council, he said expanding the UNSC would stall the other UN reform initiatives, making it clear that the UNSC expansion would feature last on the agenda of reforms of the world body.


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