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India loves you, Dr Singh tells Bush

G Sudhakar Nair in Washington | September 26, 2008 08:19 IST
Last Updated: September 26, 2008 09:20 IST

"The people of India deeply love you."

This was how Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] spoke of President George W Bush [Images] while praising him effusively after their 40-minute meeting at the Oval office in White House, flagging his 'important and historic' role in forging several bilateral initiatives including the civil nuclear deal.

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While the weather was cloudy and rainy in Washington on Thursday, it was all warmth inside the White House during the eight-minute press interaction by the two leaders who had a word of praise for each other on a few occasions, showing a spirit of bonhomie.

Bush told the prime minister how he appreciated his friendship and his leadership.

"I appreciate your friendship and I appreciate your leadership," Bush said.

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Bush went on to say "You and I have worked hard to change the relationship between our countries. India is a great country with an incredibly bright future, and it's in the US interest to have a good, strong strategic relationship with India. And we've worked hard to achieve that."

Touching upon the civil nuclear deal initiated in July 2005, Bush told Singh "it has taken a lot of work on both our parts, a lot of courage on your part..."

The prime minister said, "When history is written, I think it will be recorded that President George W Bush played a historic role in bringing our two democracy closer to each other."    

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Singh told Bush that he had played the "most important role in the massive transformation of India-United States relations."

In the context of the tortuous journey of the Indo-US nuclear deal which is currently awaiting approval after it was conceived over three years back by him and Bush, the prime minister said these are difficult issues and at each stage it was "your leadership, your personal intervention, which resolved all the difficulties that were affecting the progress of these negotiations."

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At another point, while referring to how the nuclear restrictive regime will end after the Nuclear Suppliers Group waiver, Singh said "I think a great deal of credit will go to President Bush and for this I am very grateful to you, Mr President."

Bush also thanked him for his advice on a range of matters. "I appreciated very much your briefing on the neighbourhood in which you live. It was very informative and it helps me make decisions and it helps me formulate policy. All in all, ours is a very strong relationship at a state level and at a personal level, and I appreciate you coming."

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Winding up the session, Dr Singh said "So, Mr President, this may be my last visit to you during your presidency, and let me say, thank you very much."

Bush will end his Presidency on January 20, 2009.

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