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Obama: At G20, when the PM speaks, people listen

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of G20 Summit in Toronto on June 27, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of G20 Summit in Toronto on June 27, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United States President Barack Obama met in Toronto on Sunday for their second bilateral interaction in two months and they are understood to have discussed the global economy, ways of strengthening India-US ties, the war against terrorism and other issues of mutual interest.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, which both leaders were attending.

Dr Singh and Mr Obama had last met on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit convened by the US President in Washington in April. In November 2009, Dr Singh had paid a State Visit to Washington, the first of the Obama presidency.

In remarks to the media before they went in for their meeting, Mr Obama said he believed that the extraordinary leadership that Dr Singh had provided not just to India, but to the world, had helped the world navigate through some very difficult times.

"And I can tell you that here at the G20, when the Prime Minister speaks people listen, particularly because of his deep knowledge of economic issues, as well as the fact that he understands that as India rises as a world power, not just a regional power, that it also has enormous responsibilities to work with the rest of the world community around issues of peace and prosperity," he said.

He referred to the Strategic Partnership instituted by the two countries during Dr Singh's State Visit in November which involves senior Ministers of the two countries at the highest level working together to try to find ways to enhance commercial ties, security ties, and coordination on critical multi-lateral issues like climate change.

He also referred to External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's visit to Washington at the head of a delegation to follow up on the initiative. Mr Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had conducted some very high-level talks, Mr Obama said, noting that he, too, had the opportunity to participate in that dialogue.

"We also wanted to make sure that in addition to government-to-government ties, we were initiating people-to-people ties, and so an Indian-American CEO conference took place. And we're going to continue to see how we can get our businesses to work together, and then generating recommendations to each of us in terms of how we can improve ties between the United States and India," he said.

The US President sad he and his wife Michelle Obama very much looked forward to their visit to India later this year. "We are also just excited because of the tremendous cultural, as well as political and social and economic examples that India is providing the world and has in the past," he said.

Dr Singh said India attached the greatest importance to its relationship with the US. "It is our common endeavor to give this strategic partnership a new thrust, a new meaning, a new content. And it's my privilege to be associated in this global endeavor with you, Mr. President," he said.

"You are a role model to millions and millions of people all over the world. Your life history is a history which inspires millions of people everywhere where there are people who have risen by the sheer depth of their austerity, of their hard work, and their commitment to the values on which you have worked and you've stood for," he said.

Dr Singh said India was enaged in getting rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease, which still afflict millions and millions of its people.

"And it's our common desire to work together to get rid of this scourge in our lifetime. And in that, the United States' support means a great deal to us. Your personal commitment to social justice is something we cherish," he added.

NNN

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