Washington, Sept.26 : Concluding a much anticipated meeting with US President George W Bush at the Oval Office here on Thursday evening, Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh lauded Bush's "strong personal commitment" in transforming India-US relations.
Extending India's thanks to the American president for his efforts in giving the required push to the US-India civil nuclear cooperation deal that is currently awaiting the approval of the US Congress, Dr. Singh said: "I sincerely hope that the agreement will be approved in a manner satisfactory to both sides."
Praising Bush for taking time out from his management of the financial crisis in the United States, Singh said: "Despite all the enormous pressures on your time, you have found it possible to receive me is something I deeply appreciate, deeply value. In the last four-and-a-half years that I have been prime minister, I have been the recipient of your generosity, your affection, your friendship. It means a lot to me and to the people of India."
Stating that the last four-and-a-half years had seen a massive transformation of India-United States relations, especially with regard to civil nuclear energy cooperation, the Indian Prime Minister said: "I am mentioning civil nuclear initiative because for 34 years, India has suffered from a nuclear apartheid. We have not been able to trade in nuclear material, nuclear reactors, nuclear raw materials. And when this restrictive regime ends, I think a great deal of credit will go to President Bush. And for this I am very grateful to you, Mr. President."
"There has been enormous transformation in our relationship in many other respects. The United States is India's largest trading partner. The United States is the largest investor in our country. And at President Bush's initiative, we set up a two-country CEOs forum, which has come forward with many innovative ideas to bring the business communities of our two countries closer to each other. We have taken new initiative in the field of education. We have today a new architecture of bringing the academic communities of our two countries, a new scheme of Fulbright-Naru Scholarship will unite the intellectual communities of our two countries in a manner which gives me immense satisfaction," Dr Singh added.
Initiatives have also been taken in the areas of science and technology, environment management, health and agriculture, he said, adding that "We now have a strategic partnership with the United States, and all that has happened because of the strong personal commitment of the president."
Dr. Singh also described India as a functioning democracy, and praised President Bush for appreciating a fact, that a country of a billion people with tremendous poverty, with all the diversities of the world, is yet trying to find its economic and social salvation in the framework of a functioning democracy.
"President Bush and I have discussed this aspect of India's functioning several times, and he has shown enormous respect for India or Indian democracy," he said. By Naveen Kapoor