PM ‘happy’ about House nod for n-deal, awaiting ‘final outcome’

September 28th, 2008 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghOn Board the PM’s Special Aircraft, Sep 28 (IANS) As the India-US civil nuclear deal heads for the US Senate’s approval after a nod from the House of Representatives, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday said he was happy that “one hurdle has been crossed”, but advised caution, saying India needed to wait for “the final outcome”.“I was told that the 123 agreement was in the Congress, and I have just now heard that the House has passed the bill - it will now go to the US Senate,” Manmohan Singh told reporters travelling with him to Marseilles.

“Well, I am happy that one hurdle has been crossed, but it is not the end of the Congressional process and we need to wait for the final outcome,” the prime minister said cautiously.

The Senate is expected to vote on the enabling 123 agreement Monday or Tuesday.

After the Congress approves it, this will be followed by a formal statement by President George W. Bush. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is likely to come to India Oct 3 to formally seal the deal.

However, India is pressing for a change of dates as External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is likely to be in the US on that day, official sources said.

“The visit to Washington was designed to review the state of India-US relations in the background of the July 18, 2005 statement,” the prime minister said after wrapping up his five-day visit to the US.

“Both President Bush and I expressed satisfaction at the way the relations have progressed,” he said while recalling his meeting with Bush in the White House Thursday.

The landmark nuclear deal is expected to be wrapped up by the time Manmohan Singh returns home Wednesday (Oct 1), ending his 10-day visit to the US and France.

India and France are expected to ink a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation pact Tuesday after talks between Manmohan Singh and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris.

“It will certainly come up for review and possible signature during my visit,” the prime minister replied when asked about the fate of an India-France nuclear pact.

Earlier in New York, after the US House of Representatives Saturday passed the 123 agreement by a 298-117 vote, Manmohan Singh had said he was happy to hear about it and expressed confidence that the deal will complete “the last lap” soon.

“The India-US nuclear deal is in the interests of India, the US and the world at large,” Manmohan Singh told over 400 eminent Indian-Americans at a gala reception at Hotel Waldorf Astoria in New York Saturday night.

“I should thank George Bush for this,” a beaming Manmohan Singh said a couple of hours before heading to France.

“The prime minister is happy and has expressed confidence that the deal will complete the last lap,” said Indian Ambassador to the US Ronen Sen, who hosted the reception.

The news of the House clearing the 123 agreement triggered waves of jubilation among Indian Americans who had actively batted for the nuclear deal through its difficult stages.

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