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Sep 24, 2008 at 03:50am IST

US Foreign Relations Panel approves N-deal

Washington: The US Senate has taken the first important step towards a possible vote on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The deal has been marked up to the business agenda of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for Tuesday.

However, there is no confirmation yet on when the vote will actually take place.

BE POSITIVE: Officials want that the deal should be ratified by the US Congress before PM Manmohan Singh meets President Bush on September 25.

The Bill, which was initially not on the agenda of the powerful panel, was added to the business list as the ninth and last item of business shortly after it met on Tuesday afternoon.

Indian and US officials are hoping that the deal could be ratified by the US Congress before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh comes to meet President George W Bush, at the White House on September 25.

The Business Committee of the US Congress is still to decide whether to waive the mandatory 30 days discussion period for the 123 Agreement.

It will also decide if there will be a separate or joint resolution of Congress to approve the 123 Agreement.

However, there was still no word from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as to when they are going to take up the issue.

The Committee's Democratic chairman Howard Berman says he supports the deal but has reservations about the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) waiver for India.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee has defeated Senator Russ Fiengold's admendment requiring US-NSG agreement to bar enrichment and reprocessing technology to countries that have not signed the NPT. The amendment was defeated 15-4.

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