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PM gets State welcome in White House

By Aziz Haniffa and Nikhil Lakshman at the White House
Last updated on: July 19, 2005 15:14 IST
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At 9 am local time, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was accorded a warm, and ceremonial, reception on the White House lawns by US President George Bush, to the strains of the Indian national anthem. The prime minister was given a 21-gun salute, the first time in the second Bush Administration that a visiting dignitary was being given State reception.

Complete coverage: Manmohan Singh in Washington

It was a moment fraught with great drama, with the Indian American community turning up in strength. Signifying the warmth in relations, the Indian and American flags fluttered from the first floor of the White House.

The President was accompanied by Defense Secretary Donald T Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, while the Indian delegation included Foreign Minister K Natwar Singh, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chavan.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's wife Gursharan Kaur was dressed in a blue salwar kameez, while Singh was dressed in a bandhgala and his trademark blue turban.

Images: PM in Washington

Welcoming Dr Singh, President Bush said the visit reflects "the growing bond between our two countries". Bush said India has emerged as a growing economic superpower and added that the strategic relationships were never better than they are now. The President said the ties between the two countries were cemented by hundreds and thousands of Indian Americans in the country.

Bush said the commonalities of the economic and strategic partnership were reflected during the tsunami tragedy.

Acknowledging India as a fast emerging economic power, Bush said, "We look forward to building on our strong economic relationship." The ties between the two countries were never stronger than they were today, and he predicted it will grow further.

The Manmohan Visit: History Beckons

Dr Singh, in his acceptance address, said he greatly valued the invitation and that he looked forward to the discussions with Bush. The prime minister said the visit will take forward the strategic relationship between the two countries.

"There is vast potential for out countries to work together. From our talks, an agenda of co-operation will emerge," he said.

He added that India and the US can make a significant contribution to global peace and development.

After the speeches were over, President Bush in his characteristic style put his hand around Manmohan Singh's shoulders and ushered the prime minister into the White House. The two families then emerged on the White House balcony for a photo-op.

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Aziz Haniffa and Nikhil Lakshman at the White House