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Bush vows to get N-deal done

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November 09, 2006 02:13 IST

Notwithstanding the Democrats' emphatic victory in United States Congressional elections, President George W Bush on Wednesday vowed to push through the civil nuclear deal with India in the coming Lame Duck session of the Senate.

"I'm trying to get the Indian deal done, the Vietnam deal done and the budgets done," the president told a press conference in reply to a question.

He was asked whether he would support a bill to extend voting rights in the District of Colombia that is expected to come up in the Lame Duck session.

Bush's remarks are certain to be music to the ears of New Delhi, especially against the backdrop of apprehensions about the fate of the bill in view of the Democrats' impressive show in the Congressional polls and the reservations of the proliferation hawks in the party about the deal with India.

The civilian nuclear deal has been identified as one of the top priorities of the administration in the Lame Duck session of the Senate, the other two being the Vietnam Trade Bill and Domestic Surveillance Bill.

The White House is keen that Senators take up the Vietnam Trade Bill first so that the President will have this with him on hand when he makes a state visit to Vietnam at the time of the Leaders' Summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum scheduled to be held in Hanoi on November 18 and 19.

New Delhi is optimistic the Senate will take up the nuclear deal in the brief session, likely to take place on November 15-16, to enable the completion of the Congressional processes by the year-end.

Basing its hope on the 'broad-based bipartisan support' the deal enjoys, India sees a 'very good chance' of the bill securing the Senate's approval.

On its part, New Delhi maintains that the parameters of the proposed law have been clearly outlined by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament and that is 'really the template'.

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington, DC
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