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Updated: November 24, 2009 21:43 IST

India indispensable to a future we want to build: Obama

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delivers his welcoming remarks as US President Barack Obama listens during a State arrival ceremony at White House on Tuesday. Photo: AP
AP Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delivers his welcoming remarks as US President Barack Obama listens during a State arrival ceremony at White House on Tuesday. Photo: AP

Manmohan Singh’s visit is the first state visit hosted by the administration, the highest honour extended to a foreign dignitary, and the two would discuss a wide range of bilateral issues and the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan

US President Barack Obama today warmly welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh telling him that India was “indispensable” to a future “we want to build“.

Obama and First Lady Michelle personally received Singh, the first State Guest of the 10-month-old Obama Administration, and his wife Gursharan Kaur at the White House.

“Yours is the first official state visit of my presidency, its fitting that you and India be so recognised,” 48-year-old Obama told the 77-year-old Indian leader.

“We want to build a future in which India is indispensable,” he said adding, “India and US can strengthen the global economic recovery.”

“As nuclear powers, we can be full partners in preventing the spread of the world’s most deadly weapons, securing loose nuclear materials from terrorists, and pursuing our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons,” Obama said.

On his part, Singh said, “We should cooperate in addressing global challenges of combating terrorism, making our environment cleaner, and moving towards a world free of nuclear weapons.”

The elaborate ceremonial welcome, which was planned at the White House lawns, had to be shifted to the sprawling mansion due to the rains. A 19-gun salute was given to Singh.

As Singh, dressed in a black ‘bandgala’ and his signature blue turban and Obama, attired in a formal black suit, walked in together into the East Room of the mansion, a Marine Band played National Anthems of both India and the US.

US First Lady Michelle Obama accompanied Gursharan for the ceremony.

From the US side, Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel were present. India was represented by External Affairs S M Krishna, Sam Pitroda, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Indian envoy to the US Meera Shankar.

From the corporate world, Ratan Tata, Sunil Mittal, Chanda Kochar, Deepak Parekh, Kiran Majumdar—Shaw attended the ceremony, among others.

“This visit reflects the high esteem in which I and the American people hold your wise leadership. It reflects the abiding bonds of respect and friendship between our people, including our friends in the Indian-American community who join us here today,” Obama said, welcoming Singh.

“But above all, your visit at this pivotal moment in history speaks to the opportunity before us to build the relationship between our nations, born in the last century, into one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century,” he said.

Noting that India and US share a “common story” of two “proud people” who struggled to break free from an empire and declare their independence, Obama said they are two great republics dedicated to ideals of liberty, justice, equality, and the “never—ending work of perfecting their union“.

“It’s the story of two economic marvels fuelled by an ethic of hard work and innovation. And today our nations are two global leaders, driven, not to dominate other nations, but to build a future of security and prosperity for all nations,” he said.

“As we work to build that future, India is indispensable,” the US President observed.

Singh said India and America are “separated by distance”, but bound together by the values of democracy, humanism, rule of law, and respect of fundamental human freedoms.

“Over the years, we have built upon these values and created a partnership that is based upon both principle and pragmatism. Our relations have been transformed, and today they encompass cooperation in all areas of human activity,” the Prime Minister said.

“I’ve come today to build upon these successes and to strengthen our multi-faceted relationship,” he said adding, India seeks to broaden and deepen the strategic partnership and to work with the United States to meet the challenges of a fast-changing world in this 21st century.

Singh’s visit is the first state visit hosted by the administration, the highest honour extended to a foreign dignitary, and the two leaders would discuss a wide range of bilateral issues and the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan during their one-to-one meeting.

After the meeting and discussions between the delegations of two countries, Singh and Obama will jointly address a press conference and issue a joint statement reflecting the strengthening of the relationship between the two countries.

The two countries will sign a number of pacts, including an MoU on Counter-Terrorism to provide a legal framework for stepped up cooperation against the menace, and discuss the problem of climate change ahead of the Copenhagen Summit.

Noting that “this is a moment of great opportunity” in Indo-US relationship, Singh said the two countries can and must work together to harness the immense potential of their talented and enterprising people and support each other’s growth and prosperity.

Obama said as leading economies, the US and India can strengthen the global economic recovery, promote trade that creates jobs for both the people, and pursue growth that is balanced and sustained.

“As people who’ve known the pain and anguish of terrorism, we can stand together, cooperating to prevent future attacks and promote the development and prosperity that undermines violent extremism,” he said.

“As India becomes an increasingly influential global power, we can partner to meet other transnational challenges: developing clean energy partnerships, confronting climate change, stopping infectious disease, reducing hunger, and working to end extreme poverty in our time.

“And as the world’s largest democracies, we can keep faith with our common values: speaking out and standing up for the rights and dignity to which all human beings are entitled, and showing that nations that respect the rights and aspirations of their people are ultimately more stable, more secure and more successful,” the US President said describing India as “a leader in Asia and around the world“.

”....As we build our common future, we can draw strength from our shared past,” Obama said and pointed out it was exactly 60 years ago President Harry Truman hosted India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

“And while the decades that followed were not without their challenges, the spirit of that first visit is with us today: the same sense of possibility, the same hope for the future,” he said.

Singh extended the “friendly greetings of our 1 billion people of India” to Obama and the people of the US. He also “deeply appreciated” Obama’s “strong personal commitments to our bilateral relationship“.

“God bless America. God bless India,” he concluded.

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