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US lawmaker Biden to push n-deal ‘like the devil’

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : A key US lawmaker has vowed to push the India-US nuclear deal in the Congress “like the devil” if New Delhi gets its end done, but fears its passage is going to be “very, very tight”.

“I am going to push like the devil…,” Joseph R. Biden, Democratic chairman of the powerful US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was quoted as saying Tuesday.

If India “gets their end done”, he would endeavour to get the agreement completed, Biden told Rediff.com.

Biden lauded Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision to go ahead with the deal despite the withdrawal of support by Left parties.

“I compliment the prime minister in making the move he’s made and we are going to do everything we can to help accommodate it,” Biden said.

The lawmaker, who is expected to play a key role in moving it forward, said the landmark agreement could still be completed before the current Congress adjourns. “It’s possible, but it’s very, very tight.”

“It’s going to be very, very tight because it has to go through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and you got to get the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) signed off,” he said, pointing to the two remaining hurdles before the implementing 123 agreement comes up for final approval before the US Congress.

“(And) once that occurs, under our law, there is a 30-day of continuous session-which will taken about 50 days to get there,” he noted. But “I am an optimist. I am not going to say it has run out”.

Asked if US President George Bush could call a lame-duck session after the November general election for the sole purpose of getting Congressional approval for the deal, Biden said: “He may call it for the purpose of trying to get the US-India nuclear deal done, but he cannot limit the session to consider only that.”

“So, the president would have a real issue here and it would be real interesting to see what would happen. Is it possible? Yes. And, I am going to do all I can as long as the prime minister is pushing to accommodate the possibility of us considering the deal,” he said.