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Bush Wraps Up India Visit After Landmark Civilian Nuclear Agreement


After finalizing a landmark nuclear deal with India, President Bush is wrapping up his trip with a stop in the city of Hyderabad and a speech in New Delhi.

The headlines in the Friday morning New Delhi newspapers tell the story. "We made history!" says one banner headline. "It's a deal. A very big deal!" says another.

They are referring to the dramatic announcement Thursday that the United States and India had finalized a nuclear energy cooperation agreement after months of marathon negotiations.

Under the deal - which must be approved by a skeptical U.S. Congress - the United States is to provide India with the nuclear technology and fuel it needs to help meet the thirst for energy created by a rapidly growing economy of one billion people. In return, India, which has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has tested nuclear weapons as recently as 1998, will put its civilian nuclear program under international safeguards.

During his stop in Hyderabad Friday, President Bush praised the agreement.

"I can tell the American people that this is an important agreement to deal with the proliferation issue," he said. "For India, it makes sense because it will enable India to meet electricity needs."

The deal is, in essence, a watershed in U.S. - India relations, and a sign that both democratic nations are ready to move on and put the tensions of the Cold War era behind them.

Mr. Bush told a group of young entrepreneurs at the Indian School of Business that the improvement in relations has created new opportunities for both countries.

"I am excited about our strategic partnership. I am equally excited about the future of India," he said.

Mr. Bush finishes up his stay in New Delhi with a speech to the Indian people. Aides say he will carry on the main theme of this trip: the strength and importance of the U.S. / India relationship.

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