Ahead of Manmohan-Bush meet, India hopeful of Congress nod

September 23rd, 2008 - 12:32 am ICT by IANS  

On Board Air India One, Sep 22 (IANS) As the clock ticks away for the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush in Washington Thursday, India is hopeful that the 123 bilateral nuclear pact will be approved by the US Congress by then, which will effectively seal the deal.If Congress approves the 123 agreement, there will not be any signing of the pact by the two principal architects of the India-US nuclear deal, official sources said.

“Any decision on who will sign the deal will be taken later,” a senior official accompanying the prime minister on the 10-day trip to the US and France said Monday.

“It could be at the level of the foreign ministers or officials of the Department of Atomic Energy. No decision has been taken yet,” said the official not wishing to be identified.

“If the nuclear deal is not approved by the time the current session of the US Congress ends Sep 26, there is a strong likelihood that the session may be extended by another week. The financial crisis in the US may also force an extension of the session,” said the official.

According to the US system, the president does not sign a bilateral pact. However, if Congress approves the nuclear deal by the time Manmohan Singh and Bush meet, they will announce the decision, marking the closure of over three years of negotiations.

The business committee of the US Congress is likely to take a decision Tuesday on waiving the mandatory condition of the 30-day period for the legislation to be considered by Congress. It will also decide if there will be a separate or joint resolution of Congress to approve the 123 pact by an up and down vote.

“The picture will become clear by Tuesday,” said the official in a bid to downplay expectations of an imminent Congressional ratification of the nuclear deal.

“It makes no difference whether it is 24th, 25th or 26th,” the official said, indicating it was only a matter of time when the nuclear deal is approved by Congress.

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