Rice urges Senate to approve India deal

Panel chairman greets remarks with caution


WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice faced tough questioning from the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday on the administration's nuclear deal with India. But while Democrats made clear that they would seek changes in the pact, they did not seem inclined to try to block it.

Rice argued that the Senate needed to approve the deal President Bush signed with India to keep that country aligned with the United States in what she called "an all-out rush for energy supplies" by rapidly developing nations.

"Nothing has taken me more aback as secretary of state than the way energy is - I will use the word warping - international diplomacy," she said.

Rice described a world in which limited energy supplies and competing demands from countries such as India and China are giving nations that supply oil and natural gas undue influence, and called the agreement crucial to developing a "strategic partnership" between the United States and India.

"India is a rising global power that we believe could be a pillar of stability in a rapidly changing Asia," she said.

Her remarks were greeted with caution by committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar, who noted that it "would not prevent India from expanding its nuclear arsenal."

"The course of history is not going to be kind to us if we're involved in an arms race" among developing nations, said Lugar, an Indiana Republican.

The agreement, which was announced last summer and completed by Bush in his recent trip to New Delhi, would give India access to nuclear technology that had been barred because it never signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and would remove sanctions imposed after it developed nuclear weapons. In return, India would designate most of its nuclear reactors for civilian use only and allow international inspections of them.

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