Washington, Oct.11 : India and the United States signed the 123 Agreement in Washington on Friday night, paving the way for nuclear commerce between the two countries.
External Affairs Minister 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 praised US President George Bush, Rice and the American Congress besides the Indian-American community for making the agreement a reality.
He further added that New Delhi looks forward to working with Washington in other fields such as combating terrorism, containing and fighting pandemics, climate change, ensuring food security, cooperating in disaster relief operations and other regional and global initiatives.
Bush, while signing the US-India civil nuclear Bill into law, said that the legislation does not change the fuel assurance commitments that the US government has made to the Government of India, as recorded in the 1 2 3 Agreement.
In New Delhi, the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs on Thursday night approved the landmark accord, to implement the civil nuclear deal.
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, discussed the final shape of the agreement and the accompanying statement by President George Bush, after which the go-ahead was given for signing the agreement at a meeting of his senior Cabinet colleagues in New Delhi.