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September 6, 2000
Vajpayee sets off on US tour: PTI
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Thursday left on a 13-day visit to the United States, expressing confidence that it would take forward and consolidate Indo-US ties and give a fillip to economic co-operation, particularly in information technology.
"I am hopeful that we will be able to take forward and consolidate our mutual desire for co-operation in all areas, particularly economic co-operation, in the area of science and informataion technology as well as other areas," Vajpayee said in a statement before emplaning for New York to attend the United Nations Millennium Summit.
"While abroad, my core message will be -- India is ready to take its place as an active member of the international community, a confident democracy and a vigorous economy," he declared.
Departing from the practice of taking off from the Palam technical area used for VVIP flights, Vajpayee boarded the special Air-India Boeing 747 through an aero-bridge at the main Indira Gandhi international airport, apparently to avoid climbing the ladder on the tarmac because of his knee problem.
"As is well known, the US Congress has extended valuable support to the process of strengthening Indo-US relations and I would use the opportunity to present my views on the future of Indo-US ties while thanking the US Congress for its role in promoting Indo-US ties," he said.
Vajpayee, scheduled to meet US President Bill Clinton on September 15 in Washington, said he would discuss ''substantive issues'' of bilateral ties as well as take up regional and global matters.
The prime minister, who will be addressing the Millennium Summit of the UN on Friday, said it had been called to discuss the future of the world community in the 21st century as also the role of the world body.
''The hopes of the people of India and their vision for a world order which accomodates these aspirations will be the focus of my message to the summit,'' he said, adding that he would also address the issue of UN reforms.
''I shall sign the UN Convention for Suppression of Financing of Terrorism,'' he said, referring to the French initiative supported by India.
He was seen off by Union ministers L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and other cabinet colleagues besides diplomats and senior officials.
Security was beefed at the airport brimming with outgoing passengers as Vajpayee got down from the vehicle and walked the short distance to the aero-bridge.
New Delhi's concerns over Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism, nuclear issues and UN reforms are likely to figure high on the agenda during Vajpayee's meeting with Clinton.
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