India-US ties will define 21st century, says Obama

"As I have said earlier, I believe the partnership between the US and India is one of the defining relationships of the 21st century," Obama told reporters in brief remarks at the presidential palace, ahead of opening talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Dressed in his usual conservative black suit with a maroon tie, the President underlined the "extraordinary" people-to-people relations between the US and India.
He credited this largely to the role played by the vast Indian diaspora "who contribute so much to our country".

Obama also thanked "all the people in India ... for the wonderful hospitality we have received... We want to the warmest of regards from the people of the US to the people of India".

Obama spoke minutes after he and his wife Michelle were warmly and formally greeted by President Pratibha Patil and Manmohan Singh at the forecourt of the imposing British-built Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Manmohan Singh had met him when he landed here Sunday from Mumbai, where he began his India visit a day earlier.

The President inspected a special guard of honour in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Prime Minister and Gursharan Kaur, the President and Devisingh Patil as well as a host of cabinet ministers, including Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna were at Rashtrapati Bhavan before the US first couple pulled up in their black limousine.

Obama and Michelle, in a black and green dress, were met by Patil and the prime minister as they alighted from the car.

While Patil was in a white sari with a green border, Gursharan Kaur was in a rich cream sari with an elaborate russet border.

After meeting the Indian ministers, Obama introduced Patil to the US delegation.
President Obama later paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at the Rajghat and went into talks with Manmohan Singh.

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