07/25/2008, 00.00
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Bush telephones Singh about nuclear energy, trade

The two sides want to implement the agreement on nuclear energy, fundamental for future relations between the countries. Concern over Pakistan.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Last night, U.S. President George W. Bush telephoned Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, to discuss implementing the agreement on nuclear energy for civilian purposes.

The agreement has met with strong opposition in India, where it caused a crisis with the withdrawal of the communists from the government, forcing the prime minister to call for a confidence vote in parliament, which he won on July 22, amid difficulties and controversy. Now both sides want to move forward quickly: Bush must implement the agreement before his mandate ends in November, while in India there has been no letup in the opposition to nuclear energy, which Singh believes is necessary in order to obtain enough electricity for development in the country. The agreement represents one of the main forms of recent collaboration between the two countries. Now India could receive nuclear technology and material, and in exchange it would allow inspections of its civilian nuclear plants, according to procedures that are under discussion with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

More in general, Bush said he "looks forward to continuing to work with [Singh's] government to strengthen the United States-India strategic relationship", according to spokesman Gordon Johndroe. The two leaders also talked about issues concerning the World Trade Organization.

The nuclear agreement is being followed closely by Pakistan, India's traditional rival, which is afraid that its neighbor could use nuclear technology and fuel for military purposes. The situation is also being watched by China, which is concerned about the growing international role that New Delhi is taking on, and over its closer relations with Washington.

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