"The President cordially invites you to the signing of H R 7081, United States India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act," reads an invitation sent out by the White House. Reports suggest that ever since the US Senate passed the legislation on Wednesday, Oct 1, the senoir officials believed that George Bush will be keen on having a signing ceremony in which he will have the opportunity to thank not only members of his administration, especially at the State Department and White House who worked to secure the deal, but also lawmakers and leaders of the Indian American community.
The bill was first approved by the United States House of Representatives before the Senate gave its nod for it. It had bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate. Indo-US nuclear deal is considered as one the major achievements of the Bush administration in bolstering the strategic ties between the world's biggest democracies.
It will leave behind a foreign policy legacy for the two-time US President Bush, who is to vacate the White House on January 20, 2009 when the winner of the Nov 4 US Presidential polls, either Democrat candidate Barack Obama or Republican candidate John McCain assumes charge.
Soon after the Senate's approval to the Bill, Bush had said in a statement that he was looking forward to sign the legislation into law and continuing to strengthen the US-India Strategic Partnership. "This legislation will strengthen our global nuclear non-proliferation efforts, protect the environment, create jobs and assist India in meeting its growing energy needs in a responsible manner," Bush had said.
Analysts have described the Indo-US nuclear deal as a rare foreign policy success of the Bush administration which has been criticised for its handling of the Iraq war and the economic crisis.
Condolezza Rice, the US Secretary of State who had launched an all-out effort for the passage of the bill in the US Congress, visited India on a day-long trip on Saturday, Oct 4, but the deal was not signed during her visit.
India has made it clear that it will sign the 123 Agreement to operationalise the deal with the US only after Bush signs the bill. India expects that a statement from Bush while signing the legislation will address its concerns over certain provisions of the 123 Agreement.