Page last updated at 07:49 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 08:49 UK

Singh and Bush in nuclear talks

Manmohan Singh and George Bush
The leaders say the deal is still on track

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George Bush have discussed a nuclear deal which has been stalled for the past three years.

The two leaders met at the sidelines of the G8 summit in Japan.

No announcement was made on the nuclear deal but Mr Singh said he was "very pleased" with US relations.

Under the landmark deal, India will get access to US civilian nuclear technology and fuel. But it has been bitterly opposed by communist parties.

'Shoulder to shoulder'

"We talked about the India-US nuclear deal, and how important that is for our respective countries," President Bush said after the meeting.

"India and the United States must stand tall, stand shoulder-to-shoulder and that's what is going to happen," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.

"I am very pleased with the state of our relationship, which has truly acquired the characteristic of a genuine strategic partnership.

Manmohan Singh
(The deal) is the will of the Indian people, particularly the thinking segments of our population
Manmohan Singh

"Our relationship with the United States has never been in such good shape as it is today.

"We have progressed in nuclear cooperation, space cooperation, defence cooperation, educational exchanges."

Mr Singh said that closer cooperation on matters of world importance was "the will of the Indian people, particularly the thinking segments of our population".

Correspondents say it is still not clear whether the prime minister's remarks meant that he would push ahead with ratification before President Bush leaves office.

"I respect the prime minister a lot, and I also respect India a lot and I think it's very important that the United States continues to work with our friends to develop not only a new strategic relationship, but a relationship that addresses some of the world's problems," the US president said.

Mr Bush is eager for the deal to be signed and ratified before he leaves office in January.

The deal has been bitterly opposed by India's communist parties which say it would draw India too close to the US.

The communists have now withdrawn from the coalition led by Mr Singh's Congress Party and correspondents say he will have a fight on his hands to prove his majority in parliament.

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