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India's PM Set to Push Ahead With Nuclear Deal

The Indian prime minister is going to attend the G-8 summit in Japan, after having mustered enough political support at home to push through a stalled civilian nuclear pact with the United States. Anjana Pasricha has a report from New Delhi.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's agenda in Japan includes several meetings with world leaders, on the sidelines of the G-8 summit.

The most crucial will be a meeting with President Bush, Wednesday, where he is expected to convey his intention to take the final steps to seal a civilian nuclear deal signed between the two countries.

These include seeking an approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency and a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group. So far, the government has not done so because of strong opposition to the deal from the Congress-led coalition's leftist allies.

But after a week of hectic political maneuvering, the Congress Party has won crucial support for the deal from a former adversary - a regional party known as the Samajwadi Party.

The Samajwadi Party says the nuclear pact is in national interest and has promised to extend parliament support to the government.

Its support will be crucial to ensure that a majority of members in parliament back the nuclear pact.

"We have reiterated our position," said Tom Vadakan, spokesman for the Congress Party. "From time to time, the prime minister has stated that before operationalizing the whole deal, he would bring it to parliament."

The Samajwadi Party controls 39 members of parliament in the 543 lower house of parliament. It can help the government survive, even if communist parties withdraw crucial support as they have repeatedly threatened to do.

The communist parties say the deal will undermine India's independent foreign policy and restrict its nuclear weapons program.

The nuclear deal will give India access to civilian nuclear technology, even though it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Both New Delhi and Washington want to seal the pact before the U.S. presidential election, in November. American officials have repeatedly warned that the fate of the pact will be uncertain if it is delayed and has to face the next U.S. administration.

The Indian prime minister says the deal is needed to give India more energy alternatives, to drive its economy. If it goes through, the deal is expected to cement growing ties between New Delhi and Washington.