M A I N   N E W S

Special to the tribune
Obama to keep his November date
‘Proud to go to India, look forward to script history’
Ashish Kumar Sen in Washington DC

US President Barack Obama ended all speculation about his travel plans on Thursday by confirming that he and his family will visit India in early November.

Obama broke with protocol to attend a reception at the State Department for External Affairs Minister SM Krishna at a time when many in India have been doubting his commitment to the US-India relationship. In remarks at the State Department’s Benjamin Franklin Room, the President said there was no doubt in his mind that a trip to India must be on his agenda. The President, who has gone out of his way to assure India of his commitment to the relationship, said US relations with India are “at the highest of priorities for my administration and for me personally as President of the United States.”

"I have to go to India. But even more, I am proud to go to India, and I look forward to the history that we will make together” - progress that will be treasured not just by this generation but by generations to come," he said.

Obama noted event host Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s fondness for India remarking in a lighter vein that the secretary’s favourite restaurant in New Delhi had added a new menu to the item --- the “Hillary Platter.” Announcing his decision to visit India, Obama joked that he intended to create an “Obama Platter.”

The President said he had conveyed his intention to visit India in a phone call with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week.

Security was on top of the agenda of the strategic dialogue led earlier in the day by Clinton and Krishna. Obama said the US and India were cooperating more closely than ever before against transnational threats. “This includes... making progress for the Afghan people and preventing terrorism, whether it’s in Manhattan or in Mumbai,” he said. “It includes securing vulnerable nuclear materials... And our efforts include a stronger global nonproliferation regime where all nations live up to their obligations.”

Earlier, Clinton said both India and the US have “seen our cities and our citizens targeted by violent extremists, and we share concerns about the continuing threat of terrorism and we share concerns about the dangers of nuclear proliferation... For our peoples, security is more than a priority; it is an imperative.” Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama were honoured to welcome Manmohan Singh and Gursharan Kaur to the White House for the first official state visit of his presidency in November.

He said the relationship between the United States and India is fundamentally unique because the two countries share common interests, but also share common values, as the world’s two largest democracies, and as countries that are rich in diversity, with deep and close connections among its people. The President noted that the U.S. and India were moving ahead with on the civil nuclear agreement, expanding their green partnership to promote green buildings, energy efficiency and sustainable development that creates jobs and reduces poverty.

Earlier, Krishna said millions of Indians are looking forward to Obama’s visit.

Clinton described India as an “indispensable partner and trusted friend. “We believe that a rising India is good for the United States and good for the world,” she said.


Relations with India are “at the highest of priorities”.

The US and India were cooperating more closely than ever before against transnational threats.

The relationship between the two nations is fundamentally unique because they share common interests and values

We’ll have to keep engaging Pak: Krishna

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna on Friday said a “trust deficit” exists between India and Pakistan and the only way to reduce this is through regular engagement between the countries. He was hopeful that Pakistan would find India’s commitment to this cause satisfactory. Speaking to reporters in Washington DC, Krishna said his July visit to Islamabad would seek to narrow this deficit and said the US was quite aware of India’s various concerns regarding Pakistan.





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