PM arrives in Washington amid suspense over N-deal clearance

PM arrives in Washington amid suspense over N-deal clearance

Washington: As suspense mounted over the Congressional nod for the Indo-US nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived for a meeting with President George W. Bush amid concerns in the Indian camp over certain provisions in the bill cleared by a Senate panel.

Singh will meet Bush at 17.10 hours local time (2.40 am IST) at the Oval Office in the White House, followed by a working dinner in the Old Family Dining Room.

Indications that the agreement may not be inked today were given by David Mulford, US Ambassador to India, who received Singh at the Andrews Air Force base here.

“I can’t predict when the 123 agreement would be cleared by the Congress," he told reporters but said, “It is not impossible that the deal will get ratified by the end of the current session." The session which is scheduled to end on 26 September, is expected to be extended by a week.

“So far, the signs have been positive. The very fact that the deal is moving forward in the Congress is a tribute to the US Congress despite its pre-occupation with the trillion-dollar financial bailout package," Singh said.

The Senate legislation that comes with a rider which will prevent the transfer of nuclear equipment, materials or technology from the Nuclear Suppliers Group countries or any other source in the event of New Delhi conducting a test, was introduced in the House of Representatives by ranking Republican in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.