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Bush hosts PM, Indian delegation

Aziz Haniffa in New York | September 24, 2003 23:03 IST
Last Updated: September 24, 2003 23:57 IST

In what is being seen as an exceptional gesture, US President George W Bush hosted Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and an Indian delegation at a high-powered lunch at Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York, on Wednesday.

A member of the PM's entourage told rediff.com that a wide range of bilateral issues were discussed during the hour-long meeting.

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The discussion, which was described as "extraordinarily friendly", 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.

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

Vajpayee, in what officials describe as "extremely strong terms", brought up the subject of cross-border terrorism.

Bush, who in course of the meeting praised Vajpayee's initiatives for normalisation of relations with Pakistan, is understood to have responded positively to the PM's arguments.

While the question of Iraq, and of India supplying peacekeeping troops to help the US forces in that country, came up for discussion, neither side commented on the nature of the discussions.

A formal briefing on this aspect of the discussions is expected later in the evening

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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