Washington, Jul 24: US President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday agreed to press ahead with efforts to cement a civilian nuclear deal, the White House said.
The pact, which would make India a de facto nuclear power despite not signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty and conducting nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998, ran into trouble the UPA Government faced a revolt by its former Left Front allies, culminating in Tuesday's parliamentary vote of confidence.
Bush telephoned the Prime Minister to discuss joint efforts to forge ahead on the nuclear deal. "The President said he looks forward to continuing to work with his government to strengthen the United States-India strategic relationship. Both leaders expressed their desire to see the US-India civil nuclear issue move forward as expeditiously as possible," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
Thursday's phone call was Bush's first with Singh after the UPA government survived the confidence vote. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said earlier on Thursday the Bush administration would push the US Congress hard to agree to the nuclear deal before Bush leaves office.
The agreement, which would give India access to nuclear fuel and technology, has fairly broad bipartisan support in Congress, but its passage could be complicated by the short legislative calendar ahead of the November US election.