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N-deal important for both India, US: Bush

July 09, 2008 08:44 IST

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Against the backdrop of the political turmoil in India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on Wednesday discussed progress on the Indo-US nuclear deal with President George W Bush [Images] who said the deal is important for both the countries.

Meeting in Hotel Windsor on Mount Poromoi hours before the Left parties would be withdrawing support on the nuclear deal, both Dr Singh and Bush expressed mutual admiration for each other and spoke of the need for closer relationship between the two countries.

After their 50-minute meeting, the two leaders appeared before the press in a relaxed mood and displayed a lot of personal warmth.

The turbulent political developments back home did not appeared to have any impact on the prime minister, who has staked a great deal on the nuclear agreement, when he said he was satisfied about the state of bilateral relationship which has truly acquired the characteristics of a genuine strategic partnership.

The leaders made the remarks after a meeting but took no questions.

Bush, who first spoke, said, "We talked about the nuclear deal, how important it is for our respective countries."

Dr Singh in his remarks did not refer to the deal, but said the two countries have made progress in all areas including nuclear, defence, space co-operation and education exchanges.

The prime minister said the two leaders reviewed the state of Indo-American relations.

"I'm very happy to convey to the president that our relationship has moved forward since our first meeting in July 2005 (when they okayed the nuclear deal). We have made progress in all areas. We have made progress in nuclear co-operation, defence co-operation and space co-operation and in educational exchanges.

Dr Singh said India and US are working together in multilateral institutions for the success of Doha round.

"I'm satisfied about our state of relationship which has truly acquired the characteristics of a genuine strategic partnership. I thank the president for his personal and magnificent role in the evolution of our relationship. All I can say is our relationship has never been in such good shape as it is today," Dr Singh said.

"It is the intention of my government as I believe it is also the will of the Indian people, particularly the thinking sectionss of the people that in this increasingly inter-dependent world that we live in whether it is the question of climate change and global economy, India and US must stand tall and work together shoulder to shoulder... That is what is going to be."

Bush described the meeting with Dr Singh as a conversation among friends.

"We talked about opportunities and problems and demonstrated our mutual respect. I respect the prime minister a lot. I also respect India a lot," he said, adding he and Dr Singh discussed how important it was for the two countries to work together.

"The US is keen to work as friends with India in solving problems. The two countries should continue to work as friends," Bush said.

He said the two leaders talked about environment, free trade and the Doha round of negotiations.

"We discussed how important it is for the India and US to work together to find a common ground to make sure protectionist sentiments don't grow as a wall," he said.

Bush reminded the prime minister that the Indo-American population is proud of this relationship and his leadership.

"I'm proud of the leadership of the prime minister. All in all, it was a good conversation between friends. I congratulate the prime minister," the US president said.

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