U.S. President George Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are backing a controversial deal to sell U.S. nuclear fuel to India. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from Japan where the two men met on the sidelines of a meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations.

President Bush says the nuclear deal is good for both nations as they work together to confront challenges including climate change and security.

It allows India access to atomic fuel and U.S. civilian nuclear technology in exchange for India opening its facilities to inspection by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency.

But the accord, first announced in 2006, has yet to pass either nation's legislature with American critics saying it will lead to a nuclear arms race in Asia and Indian opponents saying it will give the United States too much influence over Indian nuclear activities.

India has tested nuclear weapons but has not signed the international nonproliferation treaty

India's communist parties Tuesday withdrew from the Singh government saying they will call for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister to protest the deal.

Mr. Singh's government is expected to survive with the support of a previously-unaligned party that now supports the nuclear accord.

Following their talks at the G8 summit on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, Prime Minister Singh said relations with the United States have never been better and the two nations must continue standing shoulder to shoulder. "We have made progress in all areas. We have progressed in nuclear cooperation, space cooperation, defense cooperation," he said.

President Bush said their meeting was a typical conversation among friends talking about common opportunities and world problems in a spirit of respect. "We talked about the India / U.S. nuclear deal and how important that is for our respective countries. We talked about the environment and how we can work together to grow our economies and at the same time be responsible stewards of the environment," Mr. Bush said.

President Bush blocked past G8 efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions because those limits did not apply to India and China. At this summit, those nations joined G8 countries in agreeing to the non-binding goal of halving greenhouse gas emission by 2050.

President Bush said he and Prime Minister Singh also discussed educational exchanges and the Doha round of world trade talks where he said the United States and India must ensure that protectionist sentiments do not prevent their economies from further growth.