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US to Push Forward With India Nuclear Deal


Bush administration officials say they hope to forge ahead with a proposed civilian nuclear agreement with India.

A spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, Gordon Johndroe, says President Bush today called Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said he wanted to see the deal move forward as expeditiously as possible.

Earlier today, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Bush administration would work to ensure that the landmark agreement would get through all the processes and be approved in Congress. She made the comments to reporters, while on route to Australia.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, who was accompanying Rice on the flight, said his government is considering the nuclear deal in a positive and constructive way. But Smith reaffirmed Australia's policy of refusing to sell uranium to India because it has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Smith says the policy would not stand in the way of joining a consensus in the Nuclear Suppliers Group - which Australia is a member of.

The nuclear deal must be approved by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group and the International Atomic Energy Agency before going through the U.S. Congress.

Under the agreement, India would open its civilian reactors to international inspections in exchange for U.S. nuclear fuel and technology.

India's government survived a vote of confidence this week, after its communist allies pulled their support in opposition to the nuclear deal. India's communist and opposition parties say the agreement will align India too closely with the U.S. and compromise India's national security.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP.

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