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On 76th birthday, PM awaits his gift in New York

Renu Mittal in New York | September 27, 2008 00:22 IST

Dr Singh woke up on Friday morning in his 51st floor hotel suite at the New York Palace hotel in Manhattan to his 76th birthday. The morning papers in New York screamed the headline 'Deal or no Deal' and the prime minister may have been taken aback for a few seconds.

We hope US Congress clears N-deal soon: PM

But the headlines referred to the White House's $700 billion plan to rescue the financial industry, which appeared to fall apart late Thursday night, less than 12 hours after a market soothing deal had seemed likely.

A convergence of financial concerns, presidential politics and partisan rancour created an unexpected Washington drama with the nation's economic future hanging in the balance. It must have reminded the prime minister of his own Parliament back home.

We want the agreement to satisfy you, Bush tells PM

Late Thursday night, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank accused republicans of refusing to negotiate in good faith and told President Bush to 'go to work' to find GOP votes needed to pass the plan.

PM had a calm and serene effect on Bush

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson kneeled before democrats at the White House while urging them not to publicly criticize Republicans -- and risk sending the financial markets plunging.

And John McCain [Images] acknowledged in a statement that a bipartisan White House meeting he had sought to showcase his leadership skills on the economy had developed into a 'contentious shouting match'. Financial markets shot up, then plunged, as the yo-yo of market expectation continued to fluctuate.

Coverage: Indo-US Nuclear Tango

The prime minister cut a small cake in his hotel suite in the presence of wife Gurcharan Kaur and US-based daughter Amrit Singh, who is a lawyer with the Human Rights and Civil Liberties and has been known to take up cudgels against the Bush administration on a number of occasions.

Interesting, when you consider how much regard the prime minister has for President Bush and how close they are personally.

It was a day of expectation and waiting. The prime minister was waiting for the House of Representatives to deliver his birthday gift as news was keenly awaited of whether the last hurdle had been crossed. Friday is the final day of the US Congress, though it may be extended with both the financial bail out package and the 123 agreement yet to get the nod.

Dr Singh held a meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi and Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Gordon Brown wished the prime minister on his birthday and presented him with a small memento with his regards.

The prime minister addressed the United Nations General Assembly in the afternoon where he focused on United Nations reforms, terrorism, universal disarmament, food security and nuclear energy.

Dr Singh also attended a summit of the millennium development goals on Thursday where a large number of Heads of States had gathered to lend support to the campaign against poverty and hunger. In an acknowledgement of the huge work that she has done, Elaben Bhatt of SEWA was one of the key note speakers at the summit.

Before attending a reception organized by the Indian Ambassador to the United States, Ronen Sen, the prime minister will also hold discussions with prominent members of the Indian community.

Dr Singh will leave for France [Images] on Saturday to attend the ninth India-European Summit at Marseilles on 29th September and to hold a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

India and France are working towards signing a framework agreement to start nuclear commerce between the two countries. Both countries will also sign an agreement on civil aviation on 30th September, besides discussing cooperation in various other fields.

The India-European Summit will discuss the issue and revised joint action plan adopted in 2006 to strengthen the partnership. The Summit will also deliberate on a joint working programme on energy and climate change.

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