A U.S politician who has long argued against closer ties with India said Monday he is inclined to support Washington's plan to share civilian nuclear technology with New Delhi. Republican Representative Dan Burton of Indiana, who heads a committee promoting Pakistan affairs in the U.S. Congress, said he was very encouraged by the recent improvement in India's relations with both the United States and Pakistan.
Burton, a member of the House Committee on International Relations, was leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to New Delhi and Islamabad to hold talks with Indian and Pakistani officials and separatist leaders from Kashmir, the Himalayan region that is at the core of the decades-old rivalry between the South Asian rivals.
"As one of the people who has been considered an opponent of some of the things that have happened in India, I wanted to be here and lead this delegation," he said. "Because I wanted them to know that everyone in America, everyone in America, wants to work with India and see our relationship grow."
Burton said he expected the U.S Congress to approve a July agreement between President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to share civilian nuclear technologies. "I am leaning toward the nuclear agreement. I think most of our delegation is," he said. However, India must move to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities as agreed under the terms of the nuclear technology sharing deal, he said.
"We want to make sure there is a definite separation between civil and military usage of nuclear technology," Burton said. "And if that is guaranteed and worked out, I think the Congress of the United States will look upon this favorably."
The other members of Burton's delegation were Democrats Sheila Jackson-Lee and Al Green from Texas; Carolyn McCarthy of New York; and Loreta Sanchez of California and Republicans Steven Pearce of New Mexico and Joe Wilson of South Carolina.
The delegation planned to meet the Indian prime minister and other political leaders in New Delhi before leaving for Pakistan on Wednesday, reports the AP. I.L.