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Rice: US-India Nuclear Deal Can be Complete by Year's End


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday she believes a U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation deal can be completed by the end of the year. First proposed two years ago, the ground-breaking accord has been slowed by policy disputes. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

Rice is acknowledging that the process has been more difficult than expected. But she says with the proper commitment by the two sides, the remaining obstacles to the nuclear accord can be resolved by the end of the year.

First proposed by the United States in July of 2005, the nuclear pact would allow India access to U.S. civilian nuclear technology, overturning a decades-old ban resulting from India's refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Under the deal intended as the cornerstone of a new U.S.-Indian partnership, India is to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities and allow an international inspection regime in return for nuclear technology and fuel supplies.

The sides finished a round of high-level talks in New Delhi earlier this month, with India resisting proposed terms that would limit its right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and allow the United States to halt cooperation if India tested a nuclear weapon.

Addressing a meeting of the U.S.-India Business Council in Washington, Rice said if the process had been easy it would have been completed a long time ago. But she said she remains confident it eventually will be:

"I think that this is a win-win if ever there were one," she said. "And I know that it has broken some of the old taboos about how to deal with this problem. But I'm quite confident that if we keep after it, if we stay faithful to the agreements that our leaders signed, if we stay faithful to the legislation we have passed, we can work out the implementing agreement, we can get the approval of our Congress and ratification in India, and we can move forward."

Rice said the rest of the world is watching the nuclear talks, which she said, if successful, would put the United States and India on course to "a tremendous future," not just in the nuclear field, but others as well.

The Secretary also told the business group the two countries should do more to advance the Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization negotiations.

The talks, which began in 2001, have been stalled over a divide between industrial nations and developing countries.

The latter, led by India and Brazil, criticize the United States for failing to offer deep enough cuts in farm subsidies.

The United States and European Union, meanwhile, say the major developing states are refusing to offer new opportunities for their manufacturing exports.

Rice said the failure of the Doha talks would be a historic missed opportunity and a tragedy.

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