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PM to make first state visit of Obama presidency

Highlighting the strong and growing strategic partnership between India and the United States, President Barack Obama will welcome Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the White House on November 24 for the first state visit of his presidency, Washington announced on Friday.

world Updated: Oct 03, 2009 08:06 IST
Arun Kumar

Highlighting the strong and growing strategic partnership between India and the United States, President Barack Obama will welcome Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the White House on November 24 for the first state visit of his presidency, it was announced by Washington on Friday.

Obama and his wife Michelle will also host an official state dinner that same evening for Manmohan Singh and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement. "This visit will be the first state visit of the administration and will highlight the strong and growing strategic partnership between the United States and India, and the friendship between the American and Indian people," he said.

"During the visit, the two leaders are expected to discuss a range of global, regional, and bilateral issues of shared interest and common concern," Gibbs said. "The two leaders will also likely discuss the strategic dialogue that was launched in July and review progress made in the dialogue."

"President Obama looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Singh to Washington and working with him to strengthen and enhance their partnership for the benefit of the people of both nations, and the world," he added.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hand-delivered the state-visit invitation from Obama during her July trip to India.

State visits typically include an elaborate arrival ceremony on the White House South Lawn, one-on-one time with the president and, in the evening, a state dinner.

Obama administration's nod of recognition for the world's largest democracy and its emergence as a global player comes just four years after President George W Bush welcomed Manmohan Singh at a July 2005 state dinner and set the ball rolling for the landmark India-US nuclear deal.

The signal honour just 10 months into Obama's presidency may go a long way in allaying perceptions that engaged as he is with Pakistan to secure greater military cooperation in dealing with extremists there and in neighbouring Afghanistan, Obama may not be as warm toward India as Bush.

The Obama administration has also reassured India that it would go forward with the nuclear deal pushed by the Bush administration to resume civilian nuclear trade with India after 30 years. In fact, the new administration has used that accord as a foundation for improving ties and hopes of cooperation on the president's priority issues, such as climate change and countering terrorism.