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Bush wants N-Deal completed in lame-duck session

November 10, 2006 02:03 IST
For the second time in two days, President George W Bush has stressed the importance of getting the US-India civilian nuclear cooperation agreement completed. Bush wants the issue finished when US Congress reconvenes for a lame-duck session next week after the November 7 election where the Democrats routed the Republicans to take back both the House and Senate.

Flanked by members of his cabinet, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by his side, Bush said, "On the foreign policy front, we need to complete the work on legislation that will allow us to cooperate with India on civilian nuclear technology and pass trade legislation that will enable us to recognize Vietnam as a member of the World Trade Organisation."

On Wednesday, Bush in a press conference after the Democrats' resounding victory, had said, "I'm trying to get the Indian deal done, the Vietnam deal done and the budgets done," when he was asked if he would endorse legislation to extend voting rights in the District of Columbia, which is also an issue expected to come up in the lame-duck session.

The President in his statement -- that followed a breakfast meeting he had with the Republican leadership of the Senate and House, including lame-duck Majority Leader Senator Bill Frist, who will have the responsibility of taking up the India nuclear bill during the lame-duck session -- said, "Earlier this week, the American people went to the polls, and they cast their ballots for a new Congress. The American people made their decision; I respect the results, and so does my Cabinet. I want to congratulate the Democrat leaders on the victory they achieved for their party."

Bush, who was speaking minutes before a White House luncheon with the Speaker-elect of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi -- who in January would become the first woman Speaker of the House in US history -- and the House Majority Leader-elect, Congressman Steny Hoyer,said, "We'll discuss the way forward for our country, and I'm going to tell them what I just told our Cabinet: It is our responsibility to put the elections behind us and work together on the great issues facing America."

"Some of these issues need to be addressed before the current Congress finishes its legislation session," he said, "That means the next few weeks are going to be busy ones."

Senior administration officials told that Bush during his breakfast meeting with Frist and other members of the Republican leadership, had said he would like to see the nuclear bill and the Vietnam trade bill brought up on the Senate floor during the lame-duck session and voted on so that he can sign it before the year is out.

Democrats, like Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, who will become the Senate Majority Leader in January, have accused Frist in interviews with of simply bluffing that he was all for the India nuclear bill to be voted on positively on the Senate floor, but refused to bring it up on the floor unless the Democrats agree to certain pre-conditions of limiting debate for six hours and not introducing too many amendments.

Reid has pledged that he is all for the nuclear bill being the first thing the Senate takes up when it returns for its lame-duck session on November 13.

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC

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