India on Friday welcomed the passage of the bill on Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation in the Senate and said it was a sign of the bipartisan support the initiative enjoyed.
In a short statement, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said: "This, undoubtedly, reflects the very broad bipartisan support which this initiative enjoys.
"President Bush and Secretary of State Rice have worked personally to ensure the passage of the Bill and we express our sincere appreciation for their tireless efforts," the statement said.
The deal, which opens the door to Indo-US nuclear cooperation for the first time in three decades, was voted by a solid bipartisan margin of 85 votes to 12, after the Republican-controlled Senate defeated a handful of amendments.
"We now expect that the final version of the legislation, which would emerge after the joint conference of the House and Senate, should adhere as closely as possible to the understandings incorporated in the July 18, 2005 Indo-US Joint Statement and the March 2006 separation plan, so that full civil nuclear cooperation between India and the US becomes a reality and contributes to India's energy security," said Mukherjee.
Indications were that the joint conference would convene after the passage of the bill "and the final version will likely come up for a vote by both Houses when they reconvene after the Thanksgiving holidays, on December 4, 2006", the minister added.
In a word of caution, Mukherjee said India must await the final version before drawing any conclusions on the legislation.