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Statement by External Affairs Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee on the passage of the Bill on Indo-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation in US Senate

New Delhi
November 17, 2006

1. We welcome the passage of the Bill on Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation in the US Senate by an overwhelming majority. This, undoubtedly, reflects the very broad bipartisan support which this initiative enjoys.

2. President Bush and Secretary of State Rice have worked personally to ensure the passage of the Bill and we express our sincere appreciation for their tireless efforts.

3. We now expect that the final version of the legislation, which would emerge after the Joint Conference of the House and Senate, should adhere as closely as possible to the understandings incorporated in the July 18, 2005 Indo-US Joint Statement and the March 2006 Separation Plan, so that full civil nuclear cooperation between India and the US becomes a reality and contributes to India’s energy security.

4. We understand that, as per present indications, the Joint Conference will convene after the passage of the Bill, and the final version will likely come up for a vote by both Houses when they reconvene after the Thanksgiving holidays, on December 4, 2006. We must await the final version before drawing any conclusions on the legislation.