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India one of my first trips on re-election, says Bush

Last updated on: September 11, 2003 03:16 IST

President George W Bush, in a brief interaction with on Tuesday, promised to visit India "if re-elected."

Bush was speaking at a fundraiser co-chaired by Dr Zach Zachariah, a Republican Party stalwart in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The president described a visit to India as "one of the first trips I will make." Probed some more, he said, "I would like to go [there] before the elections."

To a question on having Indian troops in Iraq, Bush said he "would love to," but he "could understand Prime Minister [A B] Vajpayee's problem with it because of elections."

Bush added he would take up the question in New York City later this month when the two leaders meet on the periphery of the United Nations General Assembly.

Over 60 Indians from across the country attended the Fort Lauderdale event at the Hyatt Pier 66 Resort. Thirty of them were also present at a private reception for President Bush. The fundraiser, which saw a fair sprinkling of Republican Indian-American stalwarts, raised over $1.4 million.

Dr Zachariah, 53, a close friend of the Bush family for over 20 years, is the only Asian-American in the list of top 18 fundraisers for Bush. The top moneymen, each of whom has raised over $200,000, have been designated 'Rangers.' Dr Zachariah, a cardiologist who has been in private practice since 1976, is a clinical professor of medicine, University of Miami School of Medicine. He has raised over $200,000 and has been elevated to the post of Florida Co-Finance chairman of the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign.

Aziz Haniffa in Fort Lauderdale, Florida