Special Correspondent

New Delhi: Hot on the heels of the July 22 confidence vote in Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United States President George W. Bush had a telephone conversation to discuss the next steps to be taken towards completion of the India-U.S. nuclear agreement.

According to officials, Mr. Bush congratulated Dr. Singh on his victory and expressed the hope that the agreement would proceed smoothly from here on.

Also on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to take stock of the nuclear deal. Mr. Mukherjee informed Dr. Rice of India’s efforts to mobilise support for its case among the board members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) but said it was up to the U.S. to keep its end of the bargain at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

India, the officials said, expected the U.S. to secure a clear, clean and unconditional exemption for India from the NSG’s export guidelines.

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