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US President arrives amid tight security

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 1: US President George Bush arrived here this evening to a red carpet welcome on a three-day landmark visit to India, giving a new dimension to bilateral relations amid hopes that the Civilian Nuclear Agreement between the two countries would be sealed.

The US President, accompanied by his wife Laura, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Chief of Staff Andrew Card and other officials arrived to a red carpet welcome.

As soon as the President's aircraft--Air Force One--landed at the Air Force Station, Palam, a beaming Mr Bush alighted and shook hands with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Minister in Waiting Kapil Sibal, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and all senior officials who were present there to receive him.

A tight security cordon had been thrown around and all landings and take offs were stopped for about 30-minutes each before and after his arrival. ''This is a normal security drill whenever any VIP arrivees,'' a security official said.

Although the centre-piece of the visit will be the historic Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Agreement of July 18, 2005, which is expected to be sealed, a broader agenda of cooperation in diverse areas including S and T, Space, Agriculture, Trade, Commerce will be the main focus, US and Indian officials said.

Mr Bush does not have any official engagements today.

He begins his official engagements tomorrow with a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He will later visit Rajghat.

From Rajghat, Mr Bush will go straight go to the Hyderabad House for official talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

This is the first visit by Mr Bush to India and the fifth by a US President.

He will have delegation-level talks tomorrow with the Prime Minister who will host a lunch for the US President.

President A P J Abdul Kalam will also host a banquet for Mr Bush.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition L K Advani will call on him.

President Bush will also visit Hyderabad briefly and make an address at Purana Qila which would essentially be a message from the US to the people of India.

EXTERNAL-BUSH-ARRIVAL TWO NEW DELHI Tomorrow, President Bush and Prime Minister Singh will receive the much-awaited report of the Indian-American CEOs' Forum which was constituted consequent to Dr Singh's visit to Washington in July 2005 and his signing of the July 18 agreement. There are ten representatives from each country in the CEOs' Forum which has been working on a common report for the two countries for taking forward the economic and trade relationship, particularly in investment in high-technology and infrastructure areas.

A presentation will be made to the two leaders.

The US Trade Representative will have a separate meeting with Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath to add a ''strong economic and trade content'' to the visit.

On March three, President Bush will leave for Hyderabad early in the morning. The visit to Hyderabad, although brief, will have ''significant and symbolic significance,'' Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said.

In Hyderebad, the US leader will visit the N G Ranga Agriculture University signalling cooperation between the two countries in Agriculture for kicking off a second Green Revolution in India.

''It has been a very impressive story of success for India in agriculture for a second Green Revolution.'' on official and President Bush will also interact with farmers and self-help groups, particularly of women, and young entrepreneurs.

On his return he will address a special gathering at Purana Qila. The address would be the main message to the people of India from the people of the US, the Foreign Secretary said.

Mr Saran said the visit, which comes after the Prime Minister's July 2005 tour to Washinton, will have a substantive agenda for taking forward Indo-US relations in the light of the July 18, 2005, agreement.

While some of the initiatives have been already implemented, some are under discussion. The vision put forward about the strategic relationship was on shared values and cooperation in a wide spectrum of areas including strategic and security issues, energy, counter-terrorism, trade and commerce, space and high-technology.

The visit will provide an occasion to review all that, the Foreign Secretary said.


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