Terming the waiver granted to India by the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers group as a 'huge step' in the relationship between the United States and India, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has complimented the role played by the Indian government in Vienna.
In comments made to the traveling press in Algiers on Saturday, Rice said India showed a lot of leadership skills in Vienna, where everybody took everyone else's concerns seriously and found the ways to bridge it.
"I just wanted to come back and say how pleased I am to have received the news of the conclusion of the NSG discussions, and therefore, the passing of an exemption for India. This is an important step forward. I have to say that India showed a lot of leadership," Rice said.
"We got a lot of help from the Indian government to make this possible, but also from a number of delegations that worked very closely with us. And I think that it is a really very big step forward for the non-proliferation framework" she added, according to a transcript released by the State Department.
Rice maintained that while it would be ideal to get the civilian nuclear deal passed during this Congress, Washington will find ways to talk to India about not disadvantaging Americans companies should the deal not get through the current Congress.
".. We will have to see. The Congressional calendar is short, but the main thing is the international work is now done. I certainly hope to get it through because it's also a big step for the US-India relationship," Rice said.
"We have talked to the Indian government about not disadvantaging American companies and I think they recognise and appreciate American leadership on this issue. But obviously, the best thing would be to get it through Congress" Rice remarked.
The top Bush administration official acknowledged that she did make a 'lot of calls' in the run up to the decision in Vienna but would not divulge the content of the various conversations she had.
"...I had extensive discussions of this when I was in New Zealand, with the prime minister and the foreign minister. I have talked at least to the Irish, the Austrians, the Chinese. I will get you a list... but it's been a lot," she said in response to a query.
Rice was also asked to comment on the risk riding on India if it tests a nuclear weapon.
"India has a lot at stake in this agreement. And I don't think that the Indians would have sought this agreement if they did not see that their principal goal now is to seek peaceful uses of nuclear material, to be able to build civil nuclear facilities, and to do that with the best technology from around the world," Rice said.