Over 100 US lawmakers from both sides of the political divide came together at a dinner to mark the first anniversary of the historic accord on India-US nuclear cooperation to signify bipartisan support for the deal.
One after another, garlanded senators and representatives came up to voice support for the enabling legislation, expected to come up for vote in both houses of US Congress next week, at the gala dinner hosted on Tuesday by the Indian American Friendship Council on Capitol Hill.
The Bush Administration's key negotiator on the deal, Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs, thanked them all for extending support to the deal, which he assured was in the best interests of the United States.
He took pains to stress that the process of bringing the world's two greatest democracies closer was initiated by former Democratic president, Bill Clinton, with Republican President George Bush taking their relationship to a new high by inking the nuclear deal.
On the sidelines of the Council's 10th legislative conference, Burns said he had spent several hours with his Indian counterpart, Shyam Saran, going over the legislation that had emerged out of the foreign relations committees of the two houses of the Congress.
Earlier, at a Senate luncheon reception, the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, cautioned both India and the Bush Administration against too much nitpicking over the enabling legislation lest the deal itself maybe endangered.
Lugar said the two panels had worked hard to produce consensus drafts that took care of critics' non-proliferation concerns without any "killer amendments" that would have forced the administration to go back to the negotiating table.
Any resultant changes could delay the passages of the bill, he warned. And that would be detrimental to the US-India strategic partnership favoured so much by the legislators "because in my judgement it must happen in due course - the history of our two countries coming together is so important for the history of the world as well as for our basic security."