Washington, Sept.26 : Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh met US President George W Bush at the White House on Thursday evening for a working dinner, even as the US House of Representatives took a decision to postpone the voting on the US-India civil nuclear deal to Friday.
Bush is reported to have told Singh that his administration is working hard to get the deal passed as quickly as possible and hoped that India would be satisfied by the final outcome.
On his part, Singh said the deal would be approved in a manner that satisfies both India and the US.
He also said that when the 34-year-old restriction ends and history is written, Bush would find place in it.
"My historic meeting with Bush in 2005 transformed India's relations with US," said Singh. Even Bush praised Singh for his courage and leadership.
Earlier, Democrat Howard Berman, who had opposed the agreement in the present form, moved a bill in the US House that made a controversial reference to Iran. After huge diplomatic pressure, that reference was removed.
However, there are other provisions in the bill over which India is unhappy. One major worry is a clause that says the 123 Agreement will be subject to the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, the Hyde Act and any other applicable US law.
Meanwhile, the Senate has also not voted today. The two bills are different, which means a committee will have to meet and prepare a final bill.
Earlier on Thursday, US Ambassador to India David Mulford insisted that the signs were "positive" for a Congressional approval for the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Mulford has said it was "not impossible" that the agreement will get ratified by the end of the current session.
"There is reasonable prospect for action by the Congress," the envoy, who received Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Andrews Air Force base in Washington.
"I can't predict when the 123 Agreement would be cleared by the Congress. It is not impossible that the deal will get ratified by the end of the current session," the envoy said.
"So far, the signs have been positive. The very fact that the deal is moving forward in the Congress is a tribute to the US Congress despite its pre-occupation with the trillion-dollar financial bailout package," he added.
Mulford said that the United States had very high expectations from the visit of Dr. Manmohan Singh not only with regard to the US-India civil nuclear deal, but also in the context of the overall relationship between the two countries.
"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 whether it is possible to get the deal through on Thursday, 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."
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