Indo-US partnership can transform world: Bush
The US Prez left for Pakistan after an address at Purana Quila. Highlights | Picsindia Updated: Mar 04, 2006 02:00 IST
US President George W Bush on Friday night wound up his first ever visit to India, clinching a groundbreaking nuclear deal.
He ended the visiton a positive note by saying the two countries were "allies in the war against terror" who had the "power to transform the world".
"Our partnership has the power to transform the world. The partnership has taken sturdy roots in the values we share," he said in his farewell speech on the lawns of the ethereally lit 16th-century Purana Quila fort.
Bush and his wife Laura drove to the airport immediately after the speech and boarded Air Force One to fly to Islamabad, where he will stay 24 hours talking with Pakistani leaders before heading home.
Visit marred by protests
Bush's South Asia sojourn
March 1: In Afghanistan
The last day of his visit, which otherwise was termed highly successful by both sides, was marred by the death of two people in an anti-Bush protest in the northern city of Lucknow, home to a substantial Shia Muslim population.
Trouble erupted in the Uttar Pradesh state capital after a congregation in the historic Imambara mosque turned into an anti-Bush demonstration after the Friday prayers.
Demonstrators dressed in black raised slogans like "World's biggest devil - George Bush", staged roadblocks and burnt effigies of the US president.
Police and local people said the violence began after the largely Muslim demonstrators were forcing Hindu shopkeepers to down shutters, leading to clashes and police opening fire.
Bush in Hyderabad
Earlier on Friday, Bush flew to the southern city of Hyderabad to get a glimpse of rural India. He interacted with farmers and members of women self-help groups, patted a buffalo at a farm through which he trudged in shirtsleeves and saw farm implements used.
Bush spent about 30 minutes visiting the National Seed Project at the Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University and saw an exhibition that replicated a typical village.
During an interaction with 16 young entrepreneurs at the Indian School of Business - that has partnership agreements with the Kellogg School of Management, The Wharton School, and the London Business School - Bush delivered a strong message against protectionism to prevent outsourcing of IT jobs to India, saying the US welcomed competition.
He also termed India's nuclear non-proliferation record as "excellent", saying this would enable him sell to the American people the civilian nuclear energy cooperation deal the two countries have struck.
At the Purana Quila
But the Purana Qila address - that was broadcast live to a breakfast audience in the US - was clearly the highlight of the day, with Bush lavishing praise on India's democracy and its tolerance towards various religious and ethnic groups.
He then sought to link this with the growing Indo-US ties.
"Our partnership has the power to transform the world. The partnership has taken sturdy roots in the values we share," he said, listing the commonalities as "freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion".
Beginning his address with a "namaste", Bush said he was "dazzled" by the ancient land, which was the birthplace of many great religions which live side by side peacefully.
"You are inspired by the past and you can see the future. India is a natural ally for us," he said amid applause from the gathering.
He said the United States intends to open a new consulate in Hyderabad and an American Center in Delhi.
Declaring that the US and India were allies in the war against terror, Bush said they could work jointly to spread democracy around the world.
"America and India are allies in the war against terror. America and India are in this war together and we will win this war together," he asserted.
Describing free societies as a natural foe of terrorism, Bush said, "Together America and India will bring the light of freedom to the darkest corners."
India -- a global power
Calling India "a global power", he said New Delhi had "a historic duty to support democracy around the world."
Bush went on to describe the role India has played in fostering democracy in Afghanistan since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban regime.
He named North Korea, Myanmar, Syria and Cuba as countries that lacked freedom. He also accused "a small group of clerics" of ruling Iran, holding its people hostage.
"We must stand with reformers and dissidents" in these societies, Bush added. "These people may not gain freedom overnight, but history is on their side."
'I've come here as a friend'
Holding he had come to India "as a friend", he admitted that for many years, India and the US were kept apart by the Cold War. "That has changed... We are proud to stand together in the world of great democracies."
Bush paid tributes to the nearly two million Indian Americans in his country who he said had made great contributions in a variety of fields.
Also, the US President had a special mention for astronaut Kalpana Chawla, who lost her life in the Columbia Space Shuttle crash in 2003.
Indo-US bilateral relations
The President also spoke at length about bilateral relations and the need to deepen economic ties between the US and India. He referred to the 300 million middle classes in India, underlining this exceeded the total population of the US.
"Free and fair trade is good for India, good for America, and good for the world."
"India and US have ambitious goals for our partnership. We can look to the future with confidence. Our relations ship has never been better. We will work together. There is no limit to what we can achieve."
Bush drew the longest applause from a gathering that included the who's who of Indian politics and business when he said that India and the US would never succumb to terrorism.
"(The terrorists) target democracies because they think we are weak... America and India love freedom and we will love to keep it."
On ties with Pakistan
"There was a time when US relations with Pakistan were a cause of concern for India. These days are over now. A prosperous Pakistan will be useful for India", said the US President.
Bush concluded by saying: "We are optimistic about your future. May god bless India."
Why Purana Quila?
Days before the Presidential visit began, scores of Indian and US personnel descended on the fort, which stands on the site where the ancient city of Indraprastha is believed to have existed, with truckloads of equipment and reviewed security of arrangements.
The entire complex, which also houses the Delhi Zoo and boat club, have been closed to visitors till March 4.
The historical landmark was chosen as "favourable venue" for its "picturesque setting" and the right "Indian touch".
After days of scouting, Bush's media managers, looking for "just the right" location for the address, rejected modern state-of-the-art venues for the ruins just to get the "perfect setting".
Though the Indian officials had turned down the request on security grounds, saying "the fort was not safe because of its openness", the American influence prevailed.
Soon after, the protected monument underwent a facelift with a massive cleaning drive being launched, fixing of new lights and fresh pathways among other changes.
The Purana Quila was the citadel of the city of Dinapanah (refuge of the faithful). The Mughal emperor Humayun started building it in 1533 but was completed by Sher Shah Suri, one of the enlightened rulers of Delhi who ruled during 1540-1545.
Tough time ahead for Bush
Bush has a tough time on hand trying to sell the nuclear deal to Congress.
His aides, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, worked the phone during the night in trying to get Congress to amend the Atomic Energy Act and other related laws to enable nuclear business with India.
Although Bush himself acknowledged that it may not be an easy task, given the deeply entrenched views against it of what strategic expert and Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria jokingly called the "non-proliferation mafia", experts say with a Republican majority in both the Senate and the House Bush might get through the deal that he has made it clear all along he badly wanted.
First Published: Mar 03, 2006 09:44 IST