M A I N   N E W S

Bush lauds India’s stand on Pak
Pervez must end cross-border terrorism, says PM
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New York, September 21
All uncertainties, if any, about the future course of relations between India and the USA were set at rest today when the two countries reaffirmed their commitment towards forging a long-term strategic partnership by working together in combating the menace of terrorism and weapons proliferation and strengthening their economic ties.

The contours of this relationship were unveiled in a joint statement issued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George Bush after their hour-long breakfast meeting today. This was Dr Singh’s first major engagement in the United States.

The meeting was considered crucial for India as it provided Dr Singh the first opportunity to meet the US President and convey the new UPA government’s desire to improve and strengthen relations with the US.

That India is a key player for the United States was demonstrated by the fact that Mr Bush took time off from his hectic elections schedule to meet Dr Singh, stated to be among his few bilateral meetings.

New Delhi viewed this as a testimony to the importance the USA attaches to India.

The tone for today’s meeting was actually set last week with an announcement when the United States and India announced the conclusion of phase one of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership Initiative that envisages the transfer of dual-use technology to India. The Bush-Singh meeting and the consequent joint statement, appropriately titled US-India Partnership: Cooperation and Trust went a step ahead in concretising the relationship.

Briefing press persons after the hour-long breakfast meeting, held in the Presidential Suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said the warm and friendly discussions covered a wide range of issues of mutual interest. Dr Singh made a pointed reference to the fact that ties between the two have never been closer and that the best was yet to come. Mr Bush reciprocated the sentiment.

That there was complete understanding on both sides was evident when the two leaders agreed to work together in ending this scourge. Dr Singh pointed out that like the USA, India, too, is a victim of terrorism, a fact which was recognized by the United States. Mr Bush, it was stated, maintained that terrorism is a global challenge and that the war against terrorism could not be segmented, clearly alluding to India’s oft-repeated grievance that the West had been unmindful of how India was battling the problem of cross-border terrorism.

Similarly, the two leaders also recognised that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a mater of shared concern and that both need to work together in dealing with this problem.

Mr Saran said India’s impeccable record in this regard was appreciated and the USA placed no pre-condition on India before it liberalized the transfer of dual use technology to India.

Although the discussions were primarily focused on their bilateral relations, the present status of the ongoing Indo-Pak dialogue as well as regional issues concerning Iraq, Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka also figured in the talks.

On his part, Mr Bush appreciated that the peace process with Pakistan was moving ahead while India conveyed its sincerity in carrying forward the dialogue. Dr Singh, however, used this opportunity to point out that India could only move ahead if Pakistan kept its assurance on not allowing its territory be used for terrorist activities.

The infrastructure of training and terrorist camps must be eliminated if the talks are to be successful, the Prime Minister told the US President.

Dr Singh also set at rest any nagging doubts about the future of economic reforms in India. Responding to Mr Bush’s observation about the huge potential for strengthening Indo-US economic ties, Dr Singh pointed out that the liberalization process adopted by India in the early nineties had been carried forward by successive governments.

The joint statement issued by the two leaders expressed satisfaction that their bilateral relations had never been as close as they were at present and set the direction for development of the India-US expanded partnership. Last week’s successful implementation of Phase I of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership, which liberalises high technology transfer to India including the removal of ISRO Headquarters from the Commerce Department’s entity list., was seen as the beginning of a new era of cooperation and trust.

Exchanging thoughts on their shared global concerns, the two countries recognised the importance of working closely together in the war against terrorism and in combating proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.

While speaking of expanding defence cooperation between the two countries, the statement makes a strong pitch for strengthening their economic partnership and integrating their respective economies with the global economy. In this context, Dr Singh and Mr Bush expressed their desire to strengthen cooperation on international economic issues including the WTO’s Doha Development Agenda and on bilateral efforts such as the US-India Economic Dialogue and the High Technology Cooperation Group.

Mr Bush was assisted at the meeting by Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and former US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill, who now works in the White House.

The Indian delegation included External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh, National Security Adviser J.N. Dixit, Indian Ambassador to the US Ronen Sen and the Foreign Secretary.



Manmohan meets Karzai

New York, September 21
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today met Afghan President Hamid Karzai and exchanged views on the developments in Afghanistan and a host of issues covering bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The two leaders discussed the progress in the ongoing rehabilitation efforts in the war-ravaged country.

Dr Manmohan Singh was accompanied by External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh, National Security Adviser J.N. Dixit and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran. — PTI


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