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Kalam receives Bush at Rashtrapati Bhavan
PTI, rediff News Bureau | March 02, 2006 09:45 IST
Last Updated: March 02, 2006 14:35 IST
United States President George W Bush was accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday morning.
President A P J Abdul Kalam warmly welcomed Bush at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gursharan Kaur, the prime minister's wife.
After inspecting a guard of honour presented by the three arms of the defence services and a 21-gun salute, President Kalam introduced Bush to Dr Singh's ministers.
Among the Indian ministers present were Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, Ministers of State for External Affairs E Ahamed and Anand Sharma, Selja Kumari, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, General J J Singh, Chief of the Army Staff, and others.
Bush then introduced Kalam to members of his Cabinet, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Under Secretary Nicholas Burns, the anchorman for the US side on the nuclear deal.
Later, talking to reporters, Bush said, "I have been to many capitals around the world. I have never seen a reception as well organised and as grand as the reception we just received.
"It was breath-taking. And the horses that led us in added to the great elegance of the welcoming ceremony. It is an honour to be here. I have never been to India before.
"I have been looking forward to this trip for a long time. I am looking forward to work with the President and Prime Minister to foster a very important relationship," he said.
Asked how confident was he about clinching the nuclear deal with India, he said, "We have a press conference scheduled later."
Bush and First Lady Laura Bush then drove to their next engagement at Rajghat, the Mahatma's memorial.