Former US President George W Bush on Saturday favoured a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) seat for India, saying it has “arrived” as a strong democratic country in the world.

He also wanted India and the US to work together to win the war on terror in Afghanistan to bring peace and stability in the region.

“We must see the possibility of a seat for India in the United Nations Security Council,” Mr. Bush said, speaking at the HT Leadership Summit here.

“India has arrived as a strong democratic country in the world. It is a tolerant, peaceful and multi-religious democracy,” he said.

Mr. Bush, who visited India in 2006 when the two sides chartered out the road map for further strengthening Indo-US strategic partnership, said the two countries shared the same values of freedom and democracy.

On Afghanistan, he said, “America and India must work together to win the war in Afghanistan. The mission in Afghanistan has been long and difficult and costly. I believe it is necessary for stability and peace.”

He wholeheartedly agreed with US President Barack Obama that the US-India relations were not only one of the most important ties in the world, but they should also be one of the best.

But he cautioned that it would not happen automatically and the two nations would have to make important choices, including cooperation in the war in Afghanistan.

“The Taliban, Al Qaida and their extremist allies are trying to take over Afghanistan again. If they would have safe havens, the Afghan people, particularly women, would face a return to brutality. The region and the world would face serious threats,” Mr. Bush warned.

Appreciating the Indian development aid to the Afghan government, the former US president said, “The US and India must continue to stand together to support the young democracy for the sake of security and peace.”

Mr. Bush said the US-India strategic cooperation has further been strengthened following the 9/11 terror attacks in the US in 2001, the Tsunami in 2004 and the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

On the growing Indo-US relations, the former US president joked that by the time he left office, American presence in India was the second largest after Iraq, where it is waging a bloody battle against insurgents.

Expressing hope that India would continue to pursue economic reforms, Mr. Bush called for further opening up of trade and business, particularly in the financial, agriculture, health and energy sector.

“After the financial downturn of last year, the economic stage has shifted from Europe-Atlantic to Asia-Pacific,” he said.

He said government intervention during last year’s economic crisis, be it in the US, India or in other world economy, was necessary to prevent the situation from getting worse.

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