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Media Briefing by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran on the call by External Affairs Minister on President Bush

Washington DC
April 14, 2005

Good Morning to all of you.  I will be just giving you a very short account of the meeting that the External Affairs Minister  had this morning with President Bush.  I will not go into details, because there will be a more detailed briefing of the press after we have the bilateral meeting between the External Affairs Minister and Condoleezza Rice which will take place around noon.  So I will not take questions and answers, I will just give you the flavour of the meeting that took place this morning.  The meeting was held in the Oval Office and present from the US side were the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, the Chief of Staff Andrew Card and other officials.

On our side, of course, accompanying the External Affairs Minister were the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Indian Ambassador Mr. Ronen Sen and myself.

President Bush was exceedingly warm and friendly in his remarks. He said he was extremely excited about the state of India-US relations. He said he was going to use the next four years of his second term to further strengthen these relations to take them to a much higher level. He expressed admiration about the strengths that India has in terms of the talents of its people; its democracy, the fact that it is a flourishing democracy of one billion people, a very diverse country.

He spoke about India as a global power with which the United States wanted to work very closely together for the common good for world peace; for mutual economic benefit. And in this context, we touched upon some of the issues. And one very important issue, of course, was the issue of energy, and the challenges that we are going to face in the energy sector.  He said India and the US need to work in this particular area which would include the area of civil nuclear cooperation.

President Bush also said he could not wait to visit India; that he was looking forward to his visit within the year and also he conveyed to the External Affairs Minister that he was very much looking forward to receiving our Prime Minister in the near future and that a very warm welcome awaited our Prime Minister.

External Affairs Minister in his remarks drew attention to the fact that from the first day in office, even during the first term, President Bush was a leader who was extremely focused on developing relations with India; that he had made a very personal commitment to taking these relations forward. As a result, India-US relations are probably the best we have had for a very long term and that we are looking forward to a much closer relationship between these two countries in his second term.

The two leaders also spoke about the affinity that exists between the two countries, as democracies; our commitment to democratic values and how this provided an excellent foundation for taking our relations forward.

I think, I can characterize the meeting as an extremely warm and friendly meeting and it has set the stage for a very productive session that we would be having later this afternoon between External Affairs Minister and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Thank you.