PM hosts lunch for Bush, thanks him for nuclear deal

PM hosts lunch for Bush, thanks him for nuclear deal

Manmohan Singh held wide-ranging talks with Bush on an entire spectrum of India-US relations at the prime minister's 7 Race Course residence. He thanked Bush for his crucial role in ending India's decades-long nuclear isolation through a landmark nuclear deal last year, sources said. 
The two leaders recalled their last meeting fondly at the White House in September last year when the fate of the nuclear deal was still uncertain.  
The prime minister told Bush he was looking forward to his meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington Nov 24, the first bilateral summit since the change of guard at White House, sources said. 

During his first visit to India after leaving office last year, Bush will be speaking on India-US relations at the annual leadership conclave Saturday. He has been invited by Hindustan Times, a privately-owned Indian media house.

Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani, ruling Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna were among those invited for the exclusive lunch in honour of Bush. Shyam Saran, the prime minister's special envoy on climate change who played a key role in the progress of the deal, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her predecessor Shivshankar Menon were also present. 

Bush underlined his optimism about the course of India-US relations in the days to come amid anxiety in some quarters here about an apparent cooling off of ties under the Obama dispensation.

"Absolutely, President (Barack) Obama will continue working with Indian governments. He's made that clear in his statements. I believe future presidents will recognise the importance of India as a global partner and India's influence on the global scene," Bush said in an interview to the Hindustan Times.
Earlier in the day, Manmohan Singh described Bush as "a great friend of India" and lauded him for his "important role" in bringing the civil nuclear deal to fruition and underlined that India was working with other countries to promote civil nuclear cooperation.

"We in India recognise the important role he played in the fruition of the civil nuclear cooperation initiative," said Manmohan Singh, who has enjoyed warm relations with the two-time US president.
"We are working with our international partners to give a boost to our nuclear programme," he said.

Civil nuclear energy, the prime minister said, will contribute to India's efforts to use cleaner energy and to combat climate change.