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U.S. President George W. Bush and India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh,
U.S. President George W. Bush and India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, have expressed hope that the U.S. Congress will approve an agreement on cooperation in the civilian nuclear sphere.

"It has taken a lot of work on both our parts, a lot of courage on your part. Of course we want the agreement to satisfy you. We have to get it out of our Congress. We are working hard to get it passed as quickly as possible," Bush said at the start of the meeting in Washington on Thursday.

A nuclear cooperation pact between New Delhi and Washington was agreed last July and would allow the United States to sell nuclear fuel to India, but it needs the approval of the U.S. Congress before it can come into effect.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) agreed earlier this month to lift a civilian nuclear trade ban on India, which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and tested a nuclear weapon in 1974. The ban was imposed in 1975.

A bill to overcome legislation preventing the ratification of the lucrative deal was submitted to Congress in mid-September, leaving little time for its approval before Congress rounds off the current session on Friday ahead of the election campaign for the November 4 elections. Earlier reports said the session could be extended for a week.

U.S. Ambassador to India David Malford said on Thursday the pact could be ratified before the end of the session.

Critics say the deal poses security risks, as it does not contain a provision to cut supplies if India conducts a new nuclear weapon test.


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