Indian Americans applaud Bush signing n-deal into law

October 9th, 2008 - 11:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew York, Oct 9 (IANS) Indian American community leaders and businessmen have applauded President George W. Bush for signing a historic law on the India-US civil nuclear deal Wednesday that will help India meet its energy demands while giving the US access to a growing market for nuclear technology and material. Indian Americans constituted more than half of the 250 prominent people present at the White House reception that followed the bill signing by the president.

Sant Chatwal, hotelier and chairman of Indian Americans for Democrats group, told IANS that he grabbed the president’s attention by conveying to him compliments from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Bush replied: “Your PM is a good friend, I congratulate him for the deal.”

Chatwal then thanked Bush, saying: “But for your hard work, the deal would not have come through, that too in the tight time-frame.”

Chatwal said Manmohan Singh told him that one night a month ago, Bush telephoned many heads of state at 3 a.m. to convince them of the need to grant India the waiver on nuclear trade by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Thomas Abraham, chairman of GOPIO (Global Organisation of Persons of Indian Origin), who was present at the reception in the State Room of the White House, said Bush received applause a dozen times during his address of about 12 minutes.

Abraham said at the historic event, Bush recognised that a lot of hard work went on behind the scenes to see the deal through. “He particularly complimented the Indian American community’s contribution in this regard,” Abraham added.

“The nuclear deal takes India and the US to a whole new level of cooperation,” Abraham maintained.

Kishore (Kevin) Kaul, founder of Friends of the South Asian American Communities (FOSAAC) and chair of US Asia Business Forum, said: “The nuclear deal is a landmark in US-India relations and great things will follow from the world’s two largest democracies coming together.”

Also present at the reception were captains of industry, lawmakers, diplomats and officials who played a major role in getting the deal through Congress in less than a month after the NSG waiver.

Witnessing the signing ceremony in the East Room of White House were Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen and US Ambassador to India David Mulford.

With the enabling law in place, Rice and Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee are expected to formally ink the 123 Agreement in Washington Friday to give effect to the landmark accord, envisioned by Bush and Manmohan Singh over three years ago.

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