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India receives Bush with sense of self confidence: PM

By Staff
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New Delhi, Feb 23 (UNI) Asserting that India looked forward to the visit of US President George W Bush next month with a ''sense of self-confidence'', Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today urged all political parties to respect the country's tradition of national consensus on foreign policy orientation and help strengthen the hands of the government in dealing with the world.

''By and large we have had a national consensus on our foreign policy orientation and that has given us great strength in dealing with the world,'' he said, while winding up a three-day debate on the motion of thanks on the President's address in the Lok Sabha.

While reiterating that the world today viewed India with great regard and respect, Dr Singh said, ''Our civilisational inheritance, our pluralism, our culture of tolerance and inclusiveness are the envy of many nations.'' ''No Indian need feel any sense of inferiority or insecurity in today's world. India stands tall and we stand proud as an open society and an open economy.'' He said this sense of pride was re-invigourated during the recent visits of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and French President Jacques Chirac who paid tribute to India's civilisational inheritance and the emerging economic strength of the country.

''It is with this sense of self confidence that we now look forward to the visit of the President of the United States,'' he said.

Amid BJP-led Opposition's slogan-shouting throughout his 35-minute speech, Dr Singh assured the House that the values in which India's foreign policy were embedded would remain true for all time, though the instruments of the policy and the tactics and strategy being adopted may change with time.

''We have worked hard to create the space needed to have the freedom to make policy choices in an increasingly inter-dependent world,'' he said, while pointing out that ''the means we adopt to pursue our enduring objectives of peace, national security and development will, of course, change from time to time''.

''They will have to be evolved in response to the changing reality of an ever-changing world.'' On the Left allegation that the UPA government was deviating from India's independent foreign policy, the Prime Minister said Jawaharlal Nehru's vision of India was deeply embedded in the country's civilisational inheritance.

''Our civilisation has a message for the world that informs our foreign policy vision. That has been a message of unity in diversity, of pluralism, inclusiveness and secularism.'' Dr Singh assured that his government would always have the nation's interest ''uppermost in mind'' while pursuing foreign policy, in ensuring national security and in promoting the country's economic development.

UNI SH LR DB1354

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