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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. and India Strike Nuclear Deal

NEW DELHI -- India and the United States sealed a landmark civilian nuclear cooperation pact on Thursday, the centerpiece of U.S. President George W. Bush's first visit to the world's largest democracy.

The pact marks a major breakthrough for New Delhi, long treated as a nuclear pariah by the world, as it allows it access to U.S. atomic technology and fuel to meet its soaring energy needs -- provided Congress gives its approval.

It is also expected to allow atomic trade between India and other nuclear powers if the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an informal group of nations that controls global nuclear transactions, follows suit by lifting curbs on New Delhi.

"We have concluded an historic agreement today on nuclear power," Bush told a joint news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after their summit talks.

"I am looking forward to working with our United States Congress to change decades of law that will enable us to move forward in this important initiative," he said.

While the leaders celebrated the deal in the capital, protesters were on the streets demonizing Bush. His visit has inflamed passions among communist and Muslim groups opposed to U.S. policies such as the invasion of Iraq.

In the capital, thousands of communists and socialist party activists marched through the heart of the city, many wearing red caps and waving red flags.

"Beat up Bush with slippers," some activists shouted, while others held placards that said "Imperialist, Barbarian Bush Go Back" and "Alert, Deadly Bushfire has arrived in India."

The nuclear deal has been opposed by members of the U.S. Congress because India has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. But U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said he expected "broad-scale international support" for the deal.

Singh said he was particularly pleased that the two countries had been able to clinch the deal. "I have met the president a number of times, and on each occasion I have admired his vision ... and his commitment to strengthen our bilateral relations," he said. "Our discussions today make me confident that there is no limits to Indo-U.S. partnerships."

Singh could not resist teasing Bush for not taking his wife, Laura, to the Taj Mahal on his brief trip to India.

Bush blamed "the George W. Bush schedulers" for not arranging a trip for him to the monument to love, although the truth is Bush is never much of a tourist on overseas travel.

In remarks at a luncheon, Singh told Laura Bush: "I'm truly sorry that the president is not taking you to Taj Mahal this time. I hope he will be more chivalrous the next time you are here."

The audience chuckled, then Bush took the microphone and said the sore subject had come up at home. "Mr. prime minister, I'm sorry you brought up the Taj Mahal. I've been hearing about it from Laura ever since I told her that we weren't going," Bush said.

 Pakistani police suspect a suicide car bomber carried out an attack on Thursday that killed an American working at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi and four others, less than 48 hours before Bush was due to visit Pakistan.