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Bush says India visit will aim to open up mutual markets

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New Delhi, Feb 25: US President George W Bush today said he was looking forward to his visit to India and his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and that the main purpose of his visit was to open up markets between the two countries.

In an exclusive interview with Doordarshan in Washington, President Bush, who will be in India from March 1-3, said relations between the two countries were much broader than merely nuclear.

''The purpose of the trip is to open up markets. I'm looking forward to going to India, looking forward to meeting Indian leaders and looking forward to having a meeting with the Prime Minister.'' He said he would continue to work for the openness of the markets, but added that this would take time to develop. The relations between both countries, he said, were growing.

Describing India as a great democracy, Mr Bush said there was a lot of technology transfer happening, including in the field of defence, between the two countries. He cited Silicon Valley as a classic case of the technology transfer.

He also lauded the ''great contribution'' of Indian-Americans saying the US was greatly benefitted by them.

President Bush, however, regretted that he would not be able to see the Taj Mahal during his visit.

India and the US are expected to finalise the Civilian Nuclear Energy agreement signed during Dr Singh's visit to the US in July last year.

US Under-Secretary of State Nicholas Burns has been holding talks with Indian officials here primarily to make last minute efforts to fine-tune the July 18 agreement, sort out some differences that still remain and prepare ground for President Bush's visit.

After the two-day talks between Mr Burns and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran concluded yesterday, the two sides reported ''progress'' and said there was ''great clarity'' on various matters under discussion.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had described the negotiations between the two sides as ''fruitful'' and said he was looking forward to meeting President Bush.

The White House has described the visit as ''a celebration of Indo-US strategic partnership that is rooted in shared values and is broad in both its nature and scope.'' US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said in Washington that among the range of issues Mr Bush will touch upon during with meeting with Dr Singh, will be counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, energy, environment, and the expansion of economic and political freedom.

The two leaders will also discuss the strong relationship between India and the US and their cooperation on these global issues and a variety of bilateral issues as well, he added.

UNI

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