PM discusses deal with ‘friend’ Bush, bags support from G8
The political turmoil back home notwithstanding, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to take forward the nuclear deal as he met with US President George W. Bush and other world leaders on the sidelines of the G8 summit on Wednesday.
The meeting with Bush came just hours before the Left formally withdrew support to the government, protesting against the nuclear deal. Bush, however, defended the deal saying it was important for both countries and that the US would continue to work with India to “develop not only a new strategic relationship, but a relationship that addresses some of the world’s problems”.
Singh, who is scheduled to return to Delhi early on Thursday, reiterated his commitment to further strengthen ties with the US. “It is the intention of my government — I believe it is also the will of the Indian people,” he said. “In this increasingly interdependent world we live in… India and the US must stand tall, stand shoulder to shoulder, and that’s what is going to happen.”
After their 50-minute meeting, both leaders posed before the camera, shook hands and then Bush patted Singh and whispered into his ears. “Prime Minister Singh and I just had a typical conversation among friends. It was really a good meeting among two friends,” Bush said. “We did in a spirit of respect — and it was easy for me to do (that) because I respect Prime Minister Singh.”
Within hours of the meeting, the G8, made up of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US, tacitly backed the deal. “We look forward to working with India, the IAEA, the NSG... to advance India’s non-proliferation commitments and progress so as to facilitate a more robust approach to civil nuclear cooperation with India to help it meet its growing energy needs...,” the Chair’s Summary released at the end of the G8 summit said.
With PTI inputs