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Bush begins official engagements, inspects guard of honour

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 2 (UNI) US President George Bush, who arrived here last evening on a three-day visit, began his official engagements today, stating he was looking forward to working with his Indian counterpart A P J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ''foster a very important relationship''.

Talking to reporters after inspecting a guard of honour in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mr Bush refused to give any indication about the progress on thrashing out the differences over the Indo-US nuclear deal or any other subject.

''There is a press conference and banquet later in the day,'' was all that he said to reporters' query on the agreements that would be finalised during his visit.

Making a statement on the ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan, where he was received by Dr Kalam and Dr Singh, he said, ''I have never seen a reception as well organised and as grand.'' Pointing to the Rashtrapati Bhavan building, he said, ''the majestic building is breath-taking and the horses that led us here added elegance to the welcome ceremony.'' He said he had seen several receptions at various places across the world, but none has been as grand as this.

Thanking Dr Kalam and Dr Singh for the ''grand opening reception,'' he said he was also enjoying the ''beautiful weather.'' MORE UNI SN PA DS0948

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