Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hopeful in India

The U.S. ambassador to India is confident that Congress will approve a landmark nuclear-energy deal when House and Senate leaders meet next month to work out differences between two bills passed by large, bipartisan majorities in both chambers.

“We can now move forward to the next phase with a great deal of optimism,” Ambassador David C. Mulford told reporters in New Delhi. “This will open up a new source of energy for this country to help and promote its economic growth.”

Mr. Mulford said foreign investors are positioning themselves to take advantage of future deals with India’s civilian nuclear-power industry. A delegation representing more than 200 U.S. corporations is planning to visit India next month.

The ambassador called the delegation the “largest trade mission ever mounted by the United States to any country,” and said many members of the mission are “in one way or another in the civil nuclear industry.”



India, a country of 1 billion people that imports much of its power, generates only 2.5 percent of its energy needs from nuclear reactors. The goal is to produce 20 percent within 20 years.

The deal lifts a 30-year embargo on the sale of civilian U.S. nuclear technology to India, imposed because of its nuclear-weapons programs. Under the deal, India would open its civilian nuclear plants to international inspection. The United States will maintain its ban on nuclear military technology.

“Clearly this agreement will permit India to emerge as a major world power,” Mr. Mulford said. “It will no longer be isolated.”

The Senate last week voted 85-12 to adopt its bill to approve the deal. The House earlier this year passed its own version on a 359-68 vote. The two chambers will reconcile the differences in the bills and present a joint bill to President Bush.

In Washington, Indian-American activist Sanjay Puri celebrated the vote and expressed relief that the Senate had adopted the measure in the current session instead of delaying the vote until the next Congress.

“The Senate was a huge hurdle for us, because we really did not want to have to start all over again with the new Congress,” Mr. Puri, executive director of the U.S. India Political Action Committee, told our correspondent David R. Sands.

“We educated members one-on-one, wrote letters, held meetings at the grass roots, went down in the trenches in a way the community had never done before.

“We think it will be a deal that opens a lot of other doors, economic and political, both for India and for the United States,” he added.

Talks in Georgia

The United States is urging Georgia to open talks with separatists in the restive regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Matthew Bryza, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, delivered that message last week in a meeting with Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli.

“It is necessary to restore trust and to begin negotiations,” he told reporters in Tbilisi, the capital of the former Soviet republic.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Jean-Marie Guehenno, U.N. undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, who will review the situation in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region in a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution.

• Karen Armstrong, British author of books on Islam, who will discuss Arab culture from noon until 2 p.m. at the National Press Club. Reservations are required. Call 703/288-4500 or e-mail info@mosaicfound.org.

Tomorrow

• Abdul Aziz al Wandawi, director general of information at Iraq’s Higher National Commission for De-Ba’athification, who addresses the Hudson Institute.

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

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