Ahead of a crucial Congressional hearing on the Indo-US nuclear deal, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has told a high-level Indian delegation in Washington that she would be meeting key lawmakers in a bid to secure a quick approval of the agreement before the Congress ends its session on September 26.
Rice briefed visiting MPs led by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi about the steps being taken by the Bush Administration to push the deal through Congress.
The top official is said to have told the delegation that after their meeting she was travelling to Capitol Hill to continue the efforts on the civilian nuclear initiative.
The move assumes significance as Rice is visiting Capitol Hill for a meeting with lawmakers, who could play a key role in clearing the deal, just ahead of a major hearing on the issue in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee later in the day.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee has not scheduled a hearing and senior aides in the House have pointed out that while hearings are educational they are not mandatory but purely optional.
Coverage: Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement
Still, there is no word from the Chairman of the House Panel, California Democrat Howard Berman who is a known sceptic of the nuclear deal on non-proliferation grounds.
During the meeting with Ravi, Rice expressed happiness at the present state of the depth and width of the bilateral ties, while the Indian Minister is said to have voiced satisfaction over the 'right direction' of relations.
Ravi also expressed his anguish over the terrorist attack on the US embassy complex in Yemen that left at least 16 dead.
Earlier, talking to PTI, Ravi emphasised that the civilian nuclear deal has to be seen in terms of energy and the linkages between energy security and food security.
"Energy security is the most important component of development of any country," he maintained.