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September 15, 2000
PM praises Indian Caucus for role in improving Indo-US ties
Amberish K Diwanji in Washington DC
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee thanked the Congressional Caucus on India for its untiring efforts that had resulted in the increasing ties between India and the United States and their deepening friendship.
"I would like to thank you all. By promoting better Indo-US relations, by focussing attention of the House on positive elements like growing trade and economic interaction, you have been friends in deed and friends in need," he said, to rousing applause.
The prime minister was speaking at a lunch reception hosted by the India Caucus. Present among the 120 odd guests were a number of senators and congressmen besides members of the Indian community, some of whom had flown from the West Coast to attend the event and hear Vajpayee speak.
He said in his speech to Congress, he had recalled the adoption of the India resolution by an overwhelming vote of 396 to 4, calling for the broadening of Indo-US relations into a strategic partnership. "That resolution's successful adoption owes much to the Caucus members who supported it," the prime minister declared.
Vajpayee said the Caucus is an outstanding example of participatory democracy, which serves as a bridge between the 1.5 million strong Indian American community and their elected representatives.
Recalling that the India Caucus was born seven years ago with just four members, he said today it has 120 members. "This reflects both the growing confidence of the Indian American community and the increasingly close relationship between India and the US on a wide-ranging issues."
"We have noted with gratitude your support for India during last summer's intrusion by Pakistani army regulars in the Kargil sector. As we have your efforts to block certain amendments," the prime minister said.
He appreciated the support extended by the India Caucus to his government's effort to garner international support to fight terrorism. "We know we are not alone in voicing concern over and fighting the challenge of international terrorism," he said, and once more that dining hall rocked with applause.
The prime minister paid tribute to the Indian Americans present, pointing out that the expanding Indo-US economic and business relations were encouraging. "India looks forward to American investors, industry and busines to collaborate with their Indian counterparts in an environment that is conducive to growth, development and mutually enriching enterprise," he stated.
Earlier, co-chairman of the India Caucus, Representative Gary Ackerman (Democrat-New York) pointed out how 10 years ago, few would have believed that the world's largest democracy and the oldest democracy would have ever got together as natural partners. "But there were a few of us who did, like us. And today this is a reality," he said.
Ackerman felt that many of the changes that had occurred in Indo-US relations were due to the efforts of the Caucus, of the Indian American community and because of the presence of businessmen. He told Vajpayee his visit would redefine Indo-US relations.
rediff.com has assigned Associate Editors Amberish K Diwanji and Savera R Someshwar to cover Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the United States. Don't forget to log into rediff.com for news of this historic visit as it happens!
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