WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh welcomed the decision by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to lift a nuclear trade embargo on India, the White House said Saturday. In their telephone discussion earlier in the day, "The two leaders congratulated each other on the consensus reached at the Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting in Vienna and expressed appreciation for the joint efforts made there to move forward withcivil nuclear cooperation between the United States and India," U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. "This is a historic achievement that strengthens global non-proliferation principles while assisting India to meet its energy requirements in an environmentally friendly manner," Johndroe said. "The United States thanks the participating governments in the NSG for their outstanding efforts and cooperation to welcome India into the global non-proliferation community," Johndroe said. "We especially appreciate the role Germany played as chair to move this process forward." The NSG, which controls the export and sale of nuclear technology worldwide, Saturday approved a U.S. proposal to lift its 34-year-old nuclear trade embargo on India. The agreement, which came after two days of talks in Vienna, cleared the way for the U.S. administration to submit its contentious nuclear trade deal with India to the Congress for approval. Under the deal signed by the U.S. and India in March 2006, India will get access to U.S. civil nuclear technology on the condition that India is to separate nuclear facilities for civilian and military use and open its nuclear facilities for inspection. The pact is important to both President Bush and Manmohan Singh, who have made it a central piece of their foreign policy agendas. The Indian premier has said his country needs the technology to increase its electricity production so it can continue to feed its economic boom. But it is also a matter of national pride. . Still, the deal nearly cost Manmohan Singh his premiership earlier this summer when the Communist Party, a member of the governing coalition, dropped out. The party, and others, fear that the United States will try to use its closer ties with India to dominate the country. Singh's party maintained power by realigning with new splinter groups, and the prime minister called a confidence vote in July, which he won. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Saturday hailed the international group's decision. "It's a really very big step forward for the nonproliferation framework," she told reporters traveling with her on a tour of North African countries, ageny reports said. Some experts, according to reports, said the agreement, if implemented, would set a dangerous precedent, which would jeopardize the long-time efforts of the international nuclear non-proliferation mechanism and also trigger a regional nuclear arms race. It could also set off a nuclear arms race in South Asia. On Aug. 1, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreed to sign a nuclear safeguards agreement with India, a move seen as giving the green light to India-U.S. nuclear cooperation. India conducted its first nuclear test in May 1974. The South Asian country has been under a nuclear trade embargo, which the NSG imposes on countries which are not signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Addressing Saturday's meeting, Cheng Jingye, head of the Chinese delegation, pointed out that it is China's hope that the decision made by the NSG would stand the test of time and contribute to the goals of nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear power. It is also China's hope that the NSG would equally address the aspirations of all parties for the peaceful use of nuclear power while adhering to the nuclear non-proliferation mechanism, he stressed. China would cooperate with all parties on the peaceful use of nuclear power in accordance with its international obligations and on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, he said.