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Indians, Americans bhai-bhai: Bush

In the backdrop of controversy over Barrack Obama's comments on his party rival Hillary Clinton's connections with Indian-Americans, the White House says President Bush is 'proud' of Indo-US relationship.

world Updated: Jun 21, 2007 05:44 IST

In the backdrop of controversy over Democratic presidential hopeful Barrack Obama's comments on his party rival Hillary Clinton's connections with Indian-Americans, the White House has said President George W Bush is "proud" of the relationship between India and the United States.

"...The President, obviously, is proud of the growing closeness between US and Indians," White House press secretary Tony Snow said on Wednesday when asked to comment on Obama's comments that have peeved many in the Indian-American community.

The Obama Campaign had drawn up a document that took aim at Clinton's support from an Indian-American businessman and companies that do business in India. It referred to Clinton as "Mrs Clinton D-Punjab."

"Not to be holding a brief for Senator Obama, but I don't believe that he made comments of that sort. I do believe that was a staff comment for which he issued apologies," the White House Spokesman said.

"But having said that, it is important to realise that the US looks upon India as the world's largest democracy, as an important and vital ally in a whole host of things — regional security, global trade, climate change. I mean, the role of — the importance of India is not to be understated. And we are certainly glad that the relations between the nations continue to draw closer," Snow added.

In a meeting with Register reporters, Senator Obama called the document put out by his campaign as a "screw up" and that it was "stupid" and "caustic" and something that was not seen by him or his senior staffers.

Sikh fundraiser

The fundraiser who held a gathering for Hillary Rodham Clinton with members of the Sikh community said it was "unacceptable" for Barack Obama's campaign to circulate a memo critical of her financial ties to Indian-Americans.

Rajwant Singh, national chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, yesterday said he welcomed "Senator Obama's regret of his campaign's misconstrued remarks." But he called on Obama to apologise directly to the Indian community.

"He needs to be more specific and needs to understand the pain it has caused," he said.

Singh, in an e-mail and in an interview, took issue with the campaign's characterisation of Clinton as the "Democrat from Punjab". He said he did not consult with the Clinton campaign before issuing his statement.