Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama held a historic meeting on Tuesday, with Singh calling it ‘a moment of great opportunity’ and recalling the many values India and America, though separated by distance, shared.
In turn Obama sought to reassure Singh about the importance he placed on strong ties with India, subtly that his country’s growing proximity to both Pakistan and China, would not affect its relations with India.
Singh said the two countries could work together to meet a host of challenges such as combating terrorism, moving towards a nuclear arms-free world and making the environment cleaner.
“Your visit, at this pivotal moment in history, speaks to the opportunity before us to build the relationship between our nations ... into one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century,” said Obama at the welcoming ceremony.
Chilly, damp weather led the White House to move Singh’s welcome ceremony from the lawns to indoors but the Indian leader was given a 19-gun salute in line with the tradition. The White House had planned a rousing reception to Singh at the lawns of the sprawling mansion but the venue had to be changed due to sudden rains.
Obama and First Lady Michelle received Singh, the first State Guest of 10-month-old Obama administration, and his wife Gursharan Kaur.
“This is a moment of great opportunity in our relationship. India and the United States can and must work together to harness the immense potential of our talented and enterprising people, and support each
other’s growth and prosperity,” 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,” he added.
Singh noted that 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. We seek to broaden and deepen our strategic partnership.”