US consul general confident about nuclear deal success

June 12th, 2008 - 1:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, June 12 (IANS) The India-US nuclear deal will soon be sealed, if not during the tenure of the Bush administration, then by the next American government, according to US Consul General here Michael S. Owen. Although Owen is sure the deal will be sealed, he anticipates delays. “There could be delays because of the US presidential elections in November and the general elections in India early next year. The new administrations would need some time to settle down before prioritising the India-US nuclear deal,” the consul general said Wednesday.

Owen’s three-year tenure in Mumbai ends next month, after which he will head to Washington. The diplomat has earlier served in some key but vulnerable international locations, including Karachi and Colombo.

During his Mumbai tenure, Owen took time to travel extensively in Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh - the jurisdiction of the US consulate here.

Owen said the number of visas issued to the US had almost doubled during his tenure, indicating the growing relations between the two countries. He added that many US and Indian NGOs had come together to provide health care and educational facilities in the remote areas of Gujarat.

Describing Mumbai as “a truly cosmopolitan and a vibrant city”, Owen said he and his family would take back “very happy memories” from here.

Owen recalled how he had once stepped into the waters of the Arabian Sea at Chowpatty beach to witness the immersion of gigantic Ganesh idols at the end of the annual 10-day Ganpati festival. “The sea of humanity, the devotion of the people and the colours were truly fascinating,” he said.

During his stint here, Owen oversaw the construction of the spacious new US consulate building in central suburban Bandra-Kurla Complex, which will be ready for occupation by January 2009. The existing consulate in Lincoln House, originally called the Wankaner Palace, at Breach Candy is the only foreign consulate in Mumbai housed in a heritage property.

“We are now awaiting directions on what to do with this heritage building,” Owen said.

In Washington, Owen will be working on a familiar Asian and African assignment and expressed the hope of visiting India again.

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