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Bush to promote open economies during visit to India, Pak

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Washington, Feb 23 (UNI) Open economies and cooperation against terrorism will top the agenda of an upcoming presidential visit to India and Pakistan, US President Bush has said.

Speaking at the Asia Society here yesterday, Mr Bush said in the post Cold War era, the two nations shared common interests and values, which ''are bringing us closer together.'' The United States, Pakistan and India ''share a common interest in promoting open economies,'' face a common threat from Islamic extremism, and have acted on common values to deliver compassionate assistance to people who have been devastated by the natural disasters, he said referring to the October 8 earthquake that struck Pakistan and South Asia last year.

The president noted India's assistance to Pakistan in the aftermath of the disaster and urged both countries to take advantage of this opening to move beyond conflict and come together on other issues where they share common interests.

President Bush said that good relations with the United States can help both nations in their quest for more peaceful relations.

''Pakistan now understands that it benefits when America has good relations with India. India understands that it benefits when America has good relations with Pakistan. And we're pleased that India and Pakistan are beginning to work together to resolve their differences directly," he said, expressing U S support for increased trade and transportation links between the two countries.

Mr Bush said he plans to urge leaders of both the nations to address the issue of Kashmir, adding, ''America supports aresolution in Kashmir that is acceptable to both sides.'' The president also said the United States has an ambitious, practical agenda with India that 'builds on a relationship that has never been better.'' He said he plans to discuss with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the U S-India strategic partnership agreement, through which the two countries are cooperating on the fight against terrorism, supporting democracy through the Global Democracy Initiative, promoting free and fair trade, improving global health and the environment, and helping India ''meet its energy needs in a practical and responsible way.'' President Bush called upon India to produce ''a credible, transparent and defensible plan to separate its civilian and military nuclear programsme'' and to bring its civilian programme under the same international safeguards which govern nuclear power programmes of other countries.

By doing so, India will bring its civilian programme into the international mainstream and ''strengthen the bonds of trust between our two great nations,'' the president said.

While in Pakistan, President Bush said, he would be discussing that country's democratic progress with President Pervez Musharraf.

UNI XC-AJ SK PC1445

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