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Nuclear call to Bush

New Delhi, Nov. 16: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to George W. Bush, telling the President he hoped the Indo-US nuclear cooperation bill, moved in the Senate yesterday, would accommodate Delhi’s stated concerns.

Singh, who spoke with Bush for about five minutes this afternoon, expressed his appreciation for the President’s “commitment to the passage of the legislation”, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The statement added that this was an “opportunity for both leaders to exchange views on current matters”.

In the past, Bush has assured India that the parameters laid down in the joint statement of July 18, 2005, he had agreed with Singh and the Indian plan for separation of its military and civilian nuclear facilities were the factors that would shape the legislation the US Congress would adopt.

The House of Representatives has passed its own, separate legislation. The Senate began a debate on the bill tonight, which is expected to go on for two days.

India has made it known to the US that it would not accept commitments in addition to what were explicitly stated in the earlier statement while Washington had vowed not to move the goalposts.

Although the Democrats, who recently took control of both Houses of Congress from Bush’s Republican Party, are supportive of the deal, they have lined up some 18 amendments in the Senate.

Among India’s concerns, which were voiced inside and outside Parliament, were:

• To ensure the complete and irreversible removal of the existing restrictions

• India could not be expected to take on obligations such as placing its nuclear facilities under safeguards in anticipation of future concessions.

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