Thursday, March 02, 2006
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer -- Thursday, 16 minutes ago
NEW DELHI - , with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, right, got a victory Thursday on his first visit to India, securing a landmark nuclear energy agreement that he says could help ease energy prices in the United States.
Bush and Prime Minister Singh announced the deal, which will open most Indian reactors to international inspections and provide the growing nation with U.S. nuclear technology, during a joint news conference after meeting privately to hammer out details.
"We made history," Singh said of the deal that will aid India's quest for more global influence.
Under the accord, the United States will share its nuclear know-how and fuel with India to help power its fast-growing economy. It represents a major shift in policy for the United States, which imposed temporary sanctions on India in 1998 after it conducted nuclear tests.
"We concluded an historic agreement today on nuclear power," Bush said. "It's not an easy job for the prime minister to achieve this agreement, I understand. It's not easy for the American president to achieve this agreement, but it's a necessary agreement. It's one that will help both our peoples."
Critics said the deal undermines the Nuclear Nonproliferation Agreement, which India won't sign. And they say it sends the wrong signal to leaders of N and , who have snubbed their noses at international calls to halt their nuclear weapons programs.
The agreement will require U.S. congressional approval. Bush immediately acknowledged that will be difficult to win.
Bush said he will tell lawmakers that the U.S.-India relationship is changing for the better and that it is in the United States' interest to cooperate with India on its nuclear programs. He also said the deal could be a boon for U.S. consumers.
"Proliferation is certainly a concern and a part of our discussions, and we've got a good faith gesture by the Indian government that I'll be able to take to the Congress," Bush said. "But the other thing that our Congress has got to understand -- that it's in our economic interests that India have a civilian nuclear power industry to help take the pressure off of the global demand for energy. ... To the extent that we can reduce demand for fossil fuels, it will help the American consumer."
Singh's leftist allies also criticized the pact, saying it paves the way for U.S. meddling in Indian affairs.
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
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