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Bush discusses N-deal, N Korea with PM

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Last updated on: October 16, 2006 23:42 IST

US President George W Bush on Monday spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and discussed the status of the civil nuclear deal and the recent nuclear test by North Korea.

During the 10-minute telephonic conversation, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the future of WTO Doha Round also figured, the Ministry of External Affairs said in Delhi.

With regard to the civil nuclear deal, Bush and Dr Singh are understood to have discussed its future considering that the bill on it could not be taken up for vote by the US Senate during its last session in September, ahead of the November 7
Congressional elections.

The legislation could not be considered because of paucity of time and it is hoped that it will now be taken up during the brief 'lame-duck' session after the Congressional elections.

If the bill is not taken up for vote during the 'lame-duck' session, it will spill over to the next Congress which will convene in January 2007 and the entire process has to begin anew.

The legislation on the deal has already been passed by the House of Representatives.

The prime minister on Saturday said India had been assured by the Bush administration that it will use its influence to ensure that the bill goes through the Congress.

After the North Korean nuclear test, fears have been expressed that the development may have an impact on the Indo-US deal, which provides for resumption of nuclear trade with India.

However, the US has rejected any comparison between the nuclear programmes of India and North Korea.

Dr Singh had also asserted last week that there was no similarity between the two, citing India's impeccable record on non-proliferation, which is not in the case of North Korea.

Bush and Dr Singh also discussed the Doha Round of trade negotiations, two days after the prime minister made it clear that the talks can make no progress till the US comes up with a "pragmatic offer" on agriculture subsidies issue.

New Delhi, while maintaining its commitment to the round, has emphasised that forward movement on these talks could take place only after the US and European Union settle their differences on the farm subsidy issue.

Dr Singh said India was ready to play a constructive role once the US and EU resolve their differences.

In Washington, the White House said Dr Singh and Bush discussed "several topics, including civil nuclear cooperation" and the meeting between the prime minister and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Havana, Cuba.

The two leaders also "agreed that the North Korean-declared nuclear test represents a threat to the civilised world," White House Spokesperson Tony Snow said.

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