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Obama welcomes Indian PM at start of state visit

Wed Nov 25 02:50:40 EST 2009
Tue Nov 24 15:50:40 UTC 2009

WASHINGTON, Nov 24 AP - US President Barack Obama on Tuesday welcomed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the White House, opening an elaborate state visit that will include talks designed to overcome differences on climate change and US ties with Indian rivals China and Pakistan.

Obama said it was fitting that Singh was the first state visitor of his administration. He said the two countries share the bold experiment of becoming democracies after rule by a colonial power and in modern times both have experienced the pain of international terrorism.

Obama recalled that it was 60 years ago that President Harry Truman welcomed to the White House the first prime minister of newly independent India.

Singh commented that India and the US are separated by distance but bound by national values.

Chilly, damp weather caused the White House to move the ceremony indoors, where Singh and Obama stood before photographers and television cameras in the East Room as a Marine band played the national anthems of both countries.

Singh has said he is optimistic about the future of the US-Indian relationship and is looking for a "strategic partnership of global dimensions." White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called Singh's visit "a show of respect" acknowledging India's growing economic and political power.