Washington, Sept.25 : The United States has very high expectations from the visit of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh not only with regard to the next steps and possible signing of the US-India civil nuclear deal, but also in the context of the overall relationship between the two countries, said the country's envoy to India, David C Mulford.
Talking to ANI here ahead of a significant working dinner meeting between Dr. Singh and US President George W Bush, Ambassador Mulford said: "We have very high expectations from the (Indian) Prime Minister's visit not just because of the US-India civil nuclear deal, but in the context of the overall relationship."
He said that it was in everyone's knowledge that the US-India civil nuclear deal was before the U.S. Congress, and the Indian Prime Minister's visit should be seen as a significant coincidence.
Mulford said that while tonight's talks would focus on the entire gamut of US-India ties, the focus would also be on the progress made so far on the nuclear deal and the steps that are to be taken for it to move forward to its logical realization.
"We will be following the developments in the Congress... We are not yet completed... that is in the hands of the Congress. At this stage it is impossible to predict whether it (the deal) will be passed or not. We are confident that it will be passed, we are reasonably positive, but can't say when. Only the U.S. Congress knows. It is impossible to project with any certainty," said Mulford.
He reiterated that Thursday's meeting at the White House would focus on all the other elements of US-India relations, including defence, security, education and health. When asked by ANI whether it is possible to get the deal through today, Mulford replied: "It (Congress) is the only one which knows, we don't know, Congress is the only one which knows. It is not impossible; it could happen in next couple of days, it's impossible to project. The nuclear deal is racing against time in the Congress, which will be ending tomorrow."
Describing Washington's ties with New Delhi as a "very important relationship", Mulford said that tribute must be paid to the US Congress for taking out crucial time despite its preoccupation with the financial crisis in America, to discuss the Bill related to the US-India civil nuclear deal.
"It is a positive statement about the strength of the US-India relationship, he said.
Mulford's comments provide an indicator as to what Dr. Singh and President Bush are likely to discuss tonight. There seems to be hope as well as resignation in the atmosphere surrounding the talks, the outcome of which will be known early on Friday. By Naveen Kapoor