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India Welcomes Nuclear Accord With US

India's ruling Congress Party says U.S. Senate approval of a civilian nuclear pact between the United States and India is a monumental achievement.

The Senate voted Wednesday 86-13 to approve the pact, which ends a 34-year ban on U.S. civilian nuclear trade with India. Under the agreement, the U.S. will share civilian nuclear technology and material with India, while India will allow some inspections of its nuclear facilities.

Indian officials say U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit once President Bush signs the pact.

In Pakistan, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani says his country wants a similar agreement with the U.S. India and Pakistan are nuclear rivals and both countries carried out nuclear tests in 1998. Neither country has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

U.S. and Indian officials say the pact will foster nuclear cooperation and could lead to billions of dollars of investment opportunities for U.S. companies involved in nuclear technology.

Indian opposition and communist parties are criticizing the deal, saying it infringes on Indian sovereignty and will hurt India's ability to carry out any possible future nuclear testing. Other critics say the agreement hurts global efforts to control the spread of nuclear technology.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.