New Delhi, Oct 12 : External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee arrived here late last night after the signing of the 123 Agreement between India and the United States in Washington, paving the way for nuclear commerce between the two countries.
Pranab Mukherjee and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice formally signed the landmark bilateral nuclear cooperation accord.
After signing the agreement, Mukherjee said, "Both India and the US Administration have now completed all our internal procedures to be able to sign this path breaking agreement."
Noting that the agreement reflects a "careful balance of rights and obligations", he said, the agreement's provisions are now legally-binding on both sides once the agreement enters into force. It is also the first step to India's cooperation with the rest of the world in civil nuclear energy.
He said the signing of the agreement has brought to fruition three years of extraordinary effort by both India and the US and it was "one more visible sign of the transformed relationship and partnership" that the two countries are building.
"We now look forward to working with US companies on the commercial steps that will follow to implement this landmark agreement," Mukherjee added.
"By reinforcing and increasing the nuclear element in the country's energy mix, which is vital to sustain India's growth rate, nuclear power will directly boost industrial growth, rural development and help expand every vital sector of the country's economy," he further said.
Mukherjee also indicated that it would not mind the United States entering a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan.
Mukherjee's statement was in response to a question asked about Islamabad's demand for an India-like nuclear deal with the US.
"India is determined to build good relations with Pakistan and is trying to resolve all outstanding issues between them through their composite dialogue process," said Mukherjee in reply to another question about Pakistan's apprehensions about the nuclear deal.
The Foreign Minister further said that India's commitment to non-proliferation is second to none while recalling that on September 5 he had reiterated New Delhi's commitment to a unilateral voluntary moratorium to nuclear tests declared in 1998 after India conducted five tests at Pokhran.