"The achievement of bilateral civil nuclear cooperation is not a culmination but... a new beginning in US-India relations," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Thursday.
Describing the Congressional approval of the implementing 123 agreement as "a major victory for everyone involved and a significant achievement, " he said Washington now looked "to the US and Indian private sectors to take the lead in implementing the agreement and beginning cooperation.
"The opportunities now available for US investment in India's civil nuclear sector are enormous, and we encourage our private sector to take advantage of every opportunity," Fratto said.
"As we move forward, the United States will continue to abide by the commitments it has made to India throughout this process," he said adding, "We have every reason to believe that India will also abide by its commitments, thereby providing a solid framework for cooperation."
"The agreement embodies the trust and closeness that our two countries have developed over the past decade," Fratto said assuring that once formalised, the agreement will let the two countries engage in "full civil nuclear cooperation" as envisioned by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush.
"Once the formalities of signing the legislation and signing the 123 Agreement are completed, the United States and India will be able to engage in full civil nuclear cooperation as envisioned in July 2005, when the agreement was announced," "We must now build on this framework that we have achieved to continue the transformation of our relationship in all aspects," Fratto said noting the "civil nuclear initiative is one part of a broad, multifaceted partnership that includes cooperation in agriculture, education, trade, investment, defence, and democracy."
"Having completed the civil nuclear initiative, we now look forward to working with India even more closely than before to continue the evolution of our strategic partnership," the White House spokesman said.
Asked if Bush, who had hoped to see the deal done during Manmohan Singh's visit, had called the Indian leader since Congressional approval of the accord, he said: "I don't know if the President and Prime Minister Singh have spoken since last night. I don't have anything on that. I won't be surprised if they do, and we would let you know if that happens."
But he noted that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will be travelling to India this weekend to commemorate the agreement and to meet with Indian leaders "because we're all very, very excited about this agreement."
"Our relations-the relations between the United States and India are very important to us. And I think the Indian community in the United States is also very proud of this agreement also," Fratto said.
"We want to have and maintain strong relations with India. It's the world's largest democracy, and we hope that that relationship can grow," he said describing it "a new beginning between the two countries."