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US Senate votes 85-12 in favour of India's Nuclear Bill

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November 17, 2006 07:43 IST

In a major victory for the pro-India lobby, the United States Senate today voted massively in favour of the Indo-US nuclear deal, and adopted the enabling legislation, S 3709, authored by Senators Richard Lugar and Joe Biden to facilitate the US-India civilian nuclear agreement was adopted with 85-12 votes, a comfortable two-thirds margin as predicted by earlier.

The Bill now goes to conference with the House version and the differences will have to be reconciled for a final version which once approved can then go to the President's desk for signature.

This is expected to happen after Congress returns from its Thanksgiving Holiday recess on December 4, and before the lame-duck session ends two weeks later.
The lawmakers pushed through the amendments in double-quick time, crushing the killer amendments and advancing the final passage of S 3709 by almost two hours before schedule, in a major victory for the supporters of the historic US-India nuclear agreement.

"This agreement is the most important strategic diplomatic initiative undertaken by President Bush. By concluding this pact and the far-reaching set of cooperative agreements that accompany it, the President has embraced a long-term outlook that seeks to enhance the core strength of our foreign policy in a way that will give us new diplomatic options and improve global stability," US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Dick Lugar said.

The vote is also a victory for US industry and the Indian American community, working under the banner of the Coalition for Partnership with India.

Reflecting the sentiment, Ron Somers, President of the US-India Business Council, which comprises the top 220 US companies doing business in India, praised the vote, stating: "As a result of today's vote, the objectives of attaining international energy security, nuclear safety, and a cleaner global environment have today made a Himalayan leap forward."

Somers said: "The Act makes the world safer by bringing India into the international nuclear non-proliferation mainstream.  India's nuclear energy market – estimated to require $100 billion in foreign direct investment – will open for US companies, which till now has been a closed sector, creating a potential 270,000 American jobs in high technology engineering and manufacturing over the next decade."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC

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