With the experience of more than half-a-dozen bilateral and multilateral meetings with Barack Obama in the past 12 months, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters he had “a very good relationship” with the U.S. president and that “there should be no confusion on that point”.
Dr. Singh was responding to the suggestion of a reporter that he was more comfortable dealing with Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.
During a press conference here at the end of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit which Mr. Obama hosted, Dr. Singh was also asked whether his personal rapport with the U.S. president would ever translate into concrete actions by the two governments. He gave a guarded reply: “In matters relating to statecraft I think one shouldn't jump prematurely to conclusions which are not warranted by the facts on the ground”.
With differences between India and the U.S. on Washington's AfPak strategy the subject of much heartburn in Delhi, the Prime Minister was asked whether Mr. Obama would act on the concerns on terrorism he had flagged during their meeting on Sunday. "Well, I hope that what I said to the President weighs considerably with the administration but I am not an astrologer. I cannot predict what will be the final shape of things to come", he said.
India's ties with the U.S. was multi-faceted, the Prime Minister said, rejecting the perception of drift having taken hold of the relationship.
"The economic content of the relations is important. There are several other dimensions. We work together in many regional fora. So it is not a single track operation. The United States is a super power. It is a very important player in global affairs. We look forward to working with it to find practical, pragmatic solutions to the problems which the world faces".
But the Prime Minister was clear that one area the superpower's involvement was not being looked forward to by his government was in reducing tension between India and Pakistan. In his 50 minute meeting with Dr. Singh on Monday, Mr Obama had spoken of the importance of this.
Asked what role the U.S. might play in reducing tension in South Asia, the Prime Minister said he believed these issues can be resolved and should be resolved by meaningful bilateral dialogue. "I do not feel there is a role for any outside force to come in".