Bush says Manmohan Singh has had a calming and serene effect' on him

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Washington, Sept.26 : The current economic crisis bedeviling the United States may have increased the creases on President George W. Bush's forehead, but there is one man to whom he has turned for solace -- Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

At their meeting inside the Oval Office in the White House, Bush made ita point to mention that Dr. Singh's presence at the international level, and in particular in the United States, has had a salutary effect on leaders around the world.

Personally, he said, that a renowned economist like Dr. Singh had had a "calming and serene" effect.

According to Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, while the Prime Minister expressed gratitude that in the middle of all this pre-occupation with the financial situation in America, President Bush had found time and that they had spent the time together, President Bush said in return that in the middle of all this, that "the one person that he wanted to spend time with was the Prime Minister for his calming and serene effect."

Menon described the conversation between the two as "quite a remarkable one".

"The issue itself of financial crisis has come out on most occasions due to Prime Minister's background, his being such a renowned economist and experience. Of course, he said what he thought. It came up with President Bush in passing; it came up in his discussion with the President of the World Bank where they went into much more detail about the role of multilateral organizations in dealing with and giving warning about such crisis before they happen," said Menon.

"It came up in his meetings with several leaders, including with Chinese Premier (Wen Jiabao), in each case it was slightly different depending on what the nature of the conversation was. But this is natural given the PM's eminence as an economist. But I don't think, and the PM is the first to say himself, there are any simple answers on how to deal with this issue," Menon added.

"There are several ways of dealing with this. I think, he would be speaking about this in his speech at the UNGA about what he thinks needs to be done because it affects, from our point of view, the prospects of development. In fact, it already affecting growth in developing countries and other economies. That for us is a bad effect because when it starts affecting people who cannot afford to take a cut then it becomes a serious global issue," Menon said.

The United States has been wrestling with major meltdown on Wall Street for several weeks now. So grave is the crisis, that President Bush had to address the nation and call for a summit meeting of presidential candidates and Congressional leaders on Thursday to discuss a proposed 700 billion dollar bailout package.

That meeting has ended in a stalemate, with neither the Republicans nor the Democrats budging from their stated positions. Both parties have also indulged in charges and counter-charges, and the American people seem to be the only ones to suffer. The economic crisis is likely to be a major talking point during the three upcoming presidential debates, and may very well determine who is going to be the 44th President of the United States. By Naveen Kapoor

ANI

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