NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday that a deal lifting a ban on nuclear trade with India would be signed shortly.
"The president will sign the agreement very soon," she said. The signing had earlier been postponed because of administrative matters.
"Let me be clear, the 123 agreement is done, it's just a matter of signing that agreement," Rice said, referring to the name of the deal, which removes a ban on U.S. nuclear trade with India.
At a luncheon, External Affairs Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee praised Rice and U.S. President Bush for their efforts.
"When I look to the future, I am confident that our relations will continue to improve," he said.
Hours earlier, en route to India, Rice told reporters that work remained to be done. "It's got to be worked out at the last minute, because there are so many administrative issues that we have to deal with," she said. "The important thing about this trip is to talk about the next steps in the U.S.-India relationship, not the last step.
"What the civil nuclear deal does is that it removes for India a barrier to full integration on a whole range of technologies," Rice said. "But more importantly, I think it is symbolic of a relationship with India that's now at a very, very different level. And at that different level, one would expect that economic relations, defense relations, a whole range of relationships, including business relationships, will flourish."
The Senate voted 86-13 Wednesday to overturn the 34-year-old ban on nuclear trade with India. The House of Representatives passed the bill without debate last Saturday.
Rice has called the deal "a historic agreement," saying it puts the United States and India on "a firm footing."
It means American businesses can sell nuclear fuel, technology and reactors to India. In turn, India will allow international inspections of its civilian -- but not military -- nuclear power plants. It also promised not to resume testing of nuclear weapons.
The United States banned nuclear trade with India after the country exploded a nuclear device in 1974 and refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Critics contend that it would hurt international efforts to keep nuclear weapons from spreading.
Rice is to travel from India to Kazakhstan.
CNN's Sara Sidner in New Delhi and Zain Verjee in Washington contributed to this story