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US proposes talks with NSG on India-US civilian nuclear deal

Written by: Staff
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Washington, Mar 22 (UNI) As the Bush administration prepares to muster support in the 35-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for the India-US civilian nuclear deal, a top US State Department official expressed confidence that ''we have a very strong tide of support in the NSG for India''.

Under Secretary of State for political affairs Nicholas Burns said US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Richard Boucher assisted by Stephen Rademaker, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Security and Non-proliferation, are already in Vienna to begin talks tomorrow with the nuclear suppliers about the benefits the deal would give India and the US. The deal would address India's energy needs.

''We have a fairly compelling group of nations to support our case and a very strong tide of support in the NSG for India,'' Mr Burns said.

Briefing reporters at the Foreign Press Center here today, Mr Burns said, ''We have a fairly compelling group of members'' to back our agenda at the NSG meeting in Vienna. However, he said all the nations would also be interested in seeing how the US government would convince the US Congress to approve the deal. ''Once that is done, the NSG will proceed to complete its work on the nuke deal,'' he added.

He said the US agenda would be to convince the NSG on the benefits of supporting the civilian nuclear agreement with India and its energy needs and to ensure that the group passes regulations to allow civilian nuclear commerce with India.

Mr Burns did not specify any timeframe by which the negotiations with the NSG would be over saying it is an ''ongoing discussion'' that would continue till May and it may take sometime before the rules are relaxed for India.

In this context, Mr Burns said the US Congress has scheduled hearings on the civilian nuclear arrangement with India in early April when Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice would testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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