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Obama hails 'indispensable' India on Singh state visit

Wed Nov 25 02:49:43 EST 2009
Tue Nov 24 15:49:43 UTC 2009

WASHINGTON, Nov 24 AFP - US President Barack Obama hailed India as "indispensable" on Tuesday as he welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the White House on the first state visit of his presidency.

"This visit reflects the high esteem in which I and the American people hold your wise leadership," Obama told the leader of the world's largest democracy after the anthems of both nations were played at the welcome ceremony.

"Today our nations are two global leaders, driven, not to dominate other nations, but to build a future of security and prosperity for all nations. Mr Prime Minister, as we work to build that future, India is indispensable.

"We seek to broaden and deepen our strategic partnership and to work with the United States to meet the challenges of a fast-changing world in this 21st century," Singh said.

"We should cooperate in addressing global challenges of combating terrorism, making our environment cleaner, and moving towards a world free of nuclear weapons."

Obama acknowledged similarities the two powers share: their struggles to break free from empires and declare their independence, emerging on the other side as champions of democracy.

"As leading economies, the United States and India can strengthen the global economic recovery, promote trade that creates jobs for both our people and pursue growth that is balanced and sustained," Obama said.

"As nuclear powers, we can be full partners in preventing the spread of the world's most deadly weapons, securing loose nuclear materials from terrorists, and pursuing our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons," he said.

Obama's first full-fledged state visit since he entered the White House is a ceremonial affair that will culminate in a black-tie dinner on Tuesday that is one of Washington's most coveted invitations.