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India's security is priority, PM tells Bush

M Shakeel Ahmed in New York | September 24, 2003 23:03 IST
Last Updated: September 25, 2003 02:35 IST

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Wednesday told United States President George W Bush about India's constraints in sending troops to Iraq for peacekeeping purposes.

Bush appreciated India's position during the hour-long luncheon meeting at the high-security Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said.

According to Sinha, the PM told Bush that "national security needs have increased in recent years and the national security of India has priority over everything else".

Asked whether Bush had pressed India on the Iraq issue, Sinha said, "This is absolutely wrong. There is no question of any pressure on us."

Asked about Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's address to the 58th session of the United Nations General Assembly, during which he raked up the Kashmir issue, he said, "We had expected this. Pakistan is totally obsessed with India whereas we are not obsessed with Pakistan.

"They have such blinkered view that they can only see India and nothing else in the world."

Bush, who also had a meeting with Musharraf before his talks with Vajpayee, is learnt to have asked the Pakistan president to stop cross-border infiltration.

Vajpayee and Bush touched on the trinity of bilateral issues: civilian space cooperation, civilian cooperation on nuclear energy transfer and transfer and trade in the high-tech industry.

Bush appreciated the PM's efforts to improve ties with Pakistan, and called him a "man of peace".

They also discussed international issues ranging from Afghanistan and West Asia, to Iran, Iraq, China and South Asia.

The US delegation comprised, besides Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Chief of Staff Andrew Card, US Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte, National Security Council strategic councillor and former Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Christina Rocca and Jim Moriarty, Director (Asia) at the NSC.

India was represented by the PM, Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha, Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal, National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra, and Joint Secretary (Americas) Jayant Prasad, among others.

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