- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2006

India gains support

Six Republican senators endorsed the U.S.-India nuclear-power deal, as more than 20 foreign-policy specialists, including three former ambassadors to South Asia, urged Congress to approve the agreement.

Sens. George Allen of Virginia, Sam Brownback of Kansas, John Cornyn of Texas, Michael D. Crapo of Idaho, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Ted Stevens of Alaska bring a wide range of influence to the effort to win congressional approval of the agreement signed by President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, according to the U.S. India Political Action Committee (USINPAC).

Mr. Allen, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Mr. Brownback, a former chairman of the subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, also are expected to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. Mr. Stevens is a former chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and Mrs. Hutchison is vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. Mr. Crapo is considered an authority on nuclear issues, and Mr. Cornyn is chairman of the Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities.

Mr. Brownback, in a statement distributed by USINPAC, said, “Some have voiced understandable concerns about how this nuclear-energy agreement with India affects the nuclear-weapons ambitions of Iran and North Korea.

“Simply put, India does not have the record of Iran and North Korea. India has protected its nuclear program for 30 years and has not proliferated.”

Critics of the agreement have cited India’s refusal to open its nuclear-weapons program to international inspection and failure to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They also have predicted that the deal will encourage Iran and North Korea to continue with their nuclear-weapons programs.

Under the deal, the United States will provide nuclear-power technology to India in exchange for the latter opening its civilian program to international inspections.

Last week, 23 foreign-policy specialists released an open letter to Congress, calling for approval of the deal because it would promote U.S. national security and help reduce greenhouse gases.

Its signatories included two former ambassadors to India, William Clark and Frank Wisner, and a former ambassador to Bangladesh, Howard B. Schaffer.

Empty oil threat

The U.S. ambassador to Venezuela dismissed President Hugo Chavez’s threat to cut off oil sales to the United States and predicted that Americans would find another market for their fuel needs.

Ambassador William Brownfield told Venezuela’s El Universal newspaper yesterday that the oil sales benefit both countries. Venezuela is often cited as the world’s fifth-largest exporter of oil.

“The United States could survive with its economy intact without Venezuela as an oil supplier,” he said.

“That would be a massive shame, as this is a mutual relationship that serves both [countries]. If Venezuela decides not to sell us oil, they could go to other markets. We would do the same.”

Afghan children

First lady Laura Bush joined the Afghan ambassador and his wife last week to raise the profile of a program that promotes the health, education and welfare of Afghan children.

“Afghanistan’s future depends on literate, educated and healthy children,” Mrs. Bush said at a dinner to benefit the Ayenda program of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council.

Mrs. Bush is a member of the council, founded in 2002 by President Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad recalled the vast improvements in his country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 toppled the brutal Taliban regime, which banned girls from going to school.

“Among the achievements, nothing is more beautiful and promising than the sight of Afghan girls … attending class,” Mr. Jawad said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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