U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged Congress to back the Bush administration's nuclear deal with India, calling it a "strategic achievement" that would strengthen nuclear non-proliferation efforts.
Secretary Rice told key congressional committees during testimony Wednesday that civil nuclear cooperation with India will not fuel an arms race in South Asia. She said the deal would keep India from depending on what she called "unstable sources" like Iran.
Some Senate Democrats said the agreement could undermine international support for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which India has not signed. Concerns about India's military cooperation with Iran were also voiced.
The ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joseph Biden, said he was inclined to support the agreement but that the Bush administration was making a gamble that future Indian governments will live up to the terms of the deal.
Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher told Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad on Wednesday that the United States wants a lasting strategic partnership with Pakistan.
A Pakistani foreign office statement says General Musharraf briefed Boucher on Pakistan's economic growth and said its expanding energy needs would be met through a variety of sources, including nuclear power. But it did not say if the general demanded a deal similar to last month's India - US civilian nuclear deal.
Boucher told a news conference later that Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri raised the issue.
The U.S. diplomat said Washington does not duplicate things for India and Pakistan. He said the question is, whether or not Washington is meeting the needs of Pakistan, its aspirations for economic growth and education assistance, and helping it toward building a secure society.