Sridhar Krishnaswami

Washington: The United States House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly voted for a legislation providing greater access of sensitive nuclear technology to India after defeating potential deal breaker amendments.

The legislation, cleared by the 435-member House by a 359-68 vote nearly four hours after taking it up for debate, must now be approved by the Senate before being signed into law by President George Bush.

The approval of the United States and India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act of 2006 by the House handed a major victory to Mr. Bush's foreign policy initiative and was described by many lawmakers as a cornerstone of the new strategic partnership between the two countries.

Besides the Senate, the deal, which was reached during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the U.S. in July 2005, needs the clearance from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an assembly of nations that export nuclear material. Last month, the pact was approved by two key Congressional panels. PTI