Senate panel takes first step toward approval of n-deal

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : The US senate has taken the first important step towards a possible vote on the Indo-US nuclear deal by adding it for mark up to the business agenda of the Senate Foreign relations committee for Tuesday. But there’s no confirmation yet on when the vote will actually take place.

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The bill, which was initially not on the agenda of the powerful panel was added to the business list as the ninth and last item of business shortlyafter it met Tuesday afternoon.

Indian and US officials are hoping that the deal could be ratified by the Congress before Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh comes to meet President, George W. Bush, at the White House Sep 25.

The Business Committee of the Congress is still to decide whether to waive the mandatory 30 days discussion period for the 123 agreement. It will also decide if there will be a separate or joint resolution of Congress to approve the 123 pact.

However, there was still no word from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as to when they are going to take up the issue. The Committee’s Democratic chair Howard Berman, says he supports the deal but has reservations about the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver for India.