Onboard Air India One, Nov.11 : The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Tuesday, refuted media reports that he had been snubbed by U.S.President elect Barack Obama.
Reacting to news that Obama had failed to call him after receiving his good wishes on being elected as the 44th President of the United States, Dr. Singh said this was untrue.
He said the fact was that he was travelling to Oman and Qatar, and therefore, he was not in a position to receive a phone call from Obama.
Earlier media reports suggested that India was being snubbed by Obama and that he had called the leaders of at least 15 countries, including neighboring Pakistan, and was yet to engage in a conversation with Dr. Singh, despite the latter being among the first to congratulate him on his election.
Dr. Singh said: "No, this is not true... President Obama wanted to talk to me day before yesterday (November 8) (but) we could not establish contact because the time that was suggested was too short for me (to establish contact). Since then, I have been travelling... as soon as I go back (we will try to establish contact)."
Singh also said that Obama had written a "very warm" letter to him even before he was elected president.
In that letter, Obama had said that he was looking forward to the opportunity of strengthening relations between India and United States further, and to "deepening and broadening the friendship between our countries."
Obama had indicated that this would be a "first-order priority for me in the coming years. I am sorry that I was unable to meet with you on this trip, but very much look forward to doing so in the near future."
Obama had also offered his condolences on the painful losses suffered by the recent string of terrorist assaults.
Obama had thought of those attacks as cowardly and a "stark reminder that India suffers from the scourge of terrorism on a scale few other nations can imagine."
According to Obama's letter, the Indian Prime Minister was also lauded for his "courage in shepherding the civil nuclear cooperation agreement through your Parliament, the IAEA and the NSG."
Obama said that he had voted by proxy for the agreement and hoped that notwithstanding the some procedural obstacles, the deal would go through, adding that he would "resubmit the agreement (for a vote) next year as President."
In his letter, Obama said that he strongly supports civil nuclear cooperation between India and the United States, because "I believe it will enhance our partnership and deepen our cooperation on a whole range of matters."
"Importantly, it will help India to meet its growing electricity demands while aiding in the important effort to combat global warming. But I see this agreement only as a beginning of a much closer relationship between our two great countries. I would like to see US-India relations grow across the board to reflect our shared interests, shared values, shared sense of threats and ever-burgeoning ties between our two economies and societies," he adds.
He also expressed the hope that India would cooperate closely with the United States in multilateral efforts to end fissile material production. By Pankaj Chaudhry