July 18, 2005
Today, I got the rare opportunity to witness a truly historic and memorable event. I attended the official welcoming ceremony of India's Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and his wife Mrs Gusharan Kaur by President Bush and first lady Laura Bush at the White House. Bush rolled out the 'red carpet' for Singh's visit, which had all the trappings of a state visit. Present were all senior members of his cabinet and the ceremony included a 21-gun salute and marching bands. The two leaders walked side-by-side and inspected a long line of troops in dress uniform, which was followed by the national anthems of both countries. The ceremony concluded with welcoming remarks by both leaders. The ceremony, which included numerous community and political leaders of both nations, along with the families and children of embassy officials, cheered, waving small Indian and US flags.
The prime minister, who is on his first official visit to the United States, met with President Bush today and will be holding a series of high-ranking discussions with the US delegation over the next 2 days. Dr Singh's visit comes at a time when the US-India relationship has taken on new meaning as the US has indicated in no uncertain terms that India is an important, vital and strategic partner.
US officials indicated that the pomp was designed to emphasize the growing importance to the United States of India, a rising economic and military power whose newfound affinity for the United States is something Bush considers a major foreign policy success. The US has also been quick to recognize India as a regional power in South Asia as a means to containing China.
Welcoming the PM, President Bush said the visit reflects "the growing bond between our two countries". Bush said India has emerged as a growing economic superpower and added that the strategic relationships were never better than they are now. The President said the ties between the two countries were cemented by hundreds and thousands of Indian Americans who contribute so heavily to the US. He added, "Our nations believe in freedom, and our nations are confronting global terrorism."
Bush said the commonalities of the economic and strategic partnership were reflected during the tsunami tragedy, where India and the US, along with Japan and Australia played a vital role.
Acknowledging India as a fast emerging economic power, Bush said, "We look forward to building on our strong economic relationship." The ties between the two countries were never stronger than they are today, and he predicted it would grow further.
Dr Singh, in his acceptance address, said he greatly valued the warm invitation and hospitality afforded by President Bush. The prime minister said the visit would take forward the strategic relationship between the two countries. "There is vast potential for out countries to work together. From our talks, an agenda of co-operation will emerge," he said.