Bush comments are support for India's food production:Mulford

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New Delhi, May 5 (UNI) Seeking to clarify the remarks made by George W Bush about India's food consumption jacking up world prices, US Ambassador to India David Mulford today said the US President had in fact expressed support for the progress developing nations were making in food production and nutrition.

In response to a query, the US Ambassador said the President had expressed concern about the recent global food price increases and called on all nations to help in the fight against hunger.

The ''hostile political commentary'' would not be productive, he said while referring to the statements and coments mae by various political leaders on the issue.

''I believe that this is the time for increased cooperation among nations to solve this problem and that hostile political commentary is not productive,'' the Ambassador said.

A senior official of the External Affairs Ministry, when asked for the government's reaction, said President Bush's remark was in fact a ''compliment'' for the Indian economy and food producton.

''Why should we react ? It is in fact a compliment. If you go through the entire thing what he said, it is a compliment,'' the official said on condition of anonymity.

Mr Mulford, while describing President Bush as a ''great friend and admirer of India,'' said President Bush also moved to increase the US' already ''generous food aid'' contirbution to five Billion US Dollars (approximately Rs 20,000 crore) over the next two years.

''In his remarks on global food assistance, President Bush expressed his support for the progress developing nations are maing in both food production and nutrition,'' the Ambassador said.

President Bush was quoted as saying that the ''prosperous'' 350 million-strong Indian middle class for the global food crisis. Mr Bush's remarks came days after his top aide Condoleezza Rice said ''an improvement in the diets of people in India and China'' had resulted in skyrocketing food prices around the world.

He said the affluence of the middle class in India had resulted in higher consumption and an increase in demand for better food and nutrition, triggering the price rise.

''There are 350 million people in India who are classified as middle class. Their middle class is larger than our entire population. And when you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food. And so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up,'' the US President said during a visit to World Wide Technology, Inc. in Missouri.

UNI RB SY HT1925

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