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India-US nuke deal has good bipartisan support in Congress: US

Written by: Staff

Washington, Apr 8: The United States said there is good bipartisan support for the process of ratifying the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement.

Calling the agreement ''an important'' one, White House Spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday said that the Bush administration looked forward to continuing to work with Congress, to answer their questions, hearing any issues that they might want to bring up and talking to them about the importance of this agreement.'' ''The agreement goes to build our strategic relationship to ensure energy security for India as well as the United States. It would also, for the first time, bring India's civilian nuclear programme under international safeguards, which is an important development,'' he said.

He mentioned that US President George W Bush has earlier noted that India was not a country that was engaged in proliferation. They had a good nonproliferation record. And we had to look at the reality of the situation.'' In this context, Mr Mc Clellan also mentioned how the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Joseph Biden and Senator Barack Obama (Democra, Illinois) and others have expressed willingness to ''support this agreement, because they recognise the importance of moving forward on it to both our energy and national security interests.'' He added that besides this, President Bush in his meetings with the lawmakers at the White House, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, have also been working very closely with members of Congress, to garner as much support as possible for the deal.

Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli talking to Washington-based foreign journalists ruled out any arms race in South Asia as a result of the nuclear deal.''On the contrary, it brings ''India into an international fold and they're going to be consistent with other countries and other international practices, so that's a good thing,'' he said.

Mr Ereli also said the deal is one that contributes to transparency, to confidence, and frankly, to a lessening of tensions, not an increasing of tensions that are, frankly, conducive to arms races.'' ''By declaring its civil nuclear plants and putting those plants under IAEA safeguards, the world is going to know, including Pakistan, and have assurances what India is doing at those plants,'' he said.

Replying to questions at the Foreign Press Center here he said, ''Obviously, we don't think it's going to fuel an arms race because nobody has an interest in an arms race, least of all the United States. And in fact, our view is that this deal is going to eliminate or reduce the kinds of doubts and insecurities that fuel arms races, as opposed to contribute to those doubts and insecurities.'' ''Why? Because what India is doing here is, frankly, taking its programme out of the shadows and exceeding to a level of visibility and transparency which can only contribute to security and reassurance,'' he added.


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