N-deal is done, Pranab, Rice sign 123 pact

October 11th, 2008 - 3:34 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghWashington, Oct 11(IANS) India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have signed the bilateral 123 agreement to seal the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal.The agreement bringing into reality the accord envisioned by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush over three years ago, was signed by the two ministers at a ceremony in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department a little after 4 p.m. Friday (1.30 a.m. Saturday India time).

Mukherjee flew in Friday morning to sign the “Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of India and the Government of the United States of America concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy” after India’s concerns over the deal were met by Bush’s presidential statement.

The Indian minister came to ink the bilateral agreement just two days after Bush signed a historic enabling law with an assertion that it does not change US commitments on nuclear fuel assurances and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

“By undertaking new cooperation on civil nuclear energy, India will be able to count on a reliable fuel supply for its civilian reactors,” said Bush as he signed the Congressional approval of what he called a “big deal” at a White House ceremony Wednesday.

“The legislation does not change the terms of the 123 Agreement as I submitted it to the Congress,” said Bush in an accompanying presidential statement. It simply enabled him to bring the bilateral agreement “into force and to accept on behalf of the United States the obligations contained in the Agreement”.

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