Bush may visit India in Sept-Oct

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, January 16:

Preliminary discussions have begun looking at possibilities of a visit by US President George W Bush to India in September-October this year. Although visit logistics would start getting discussed only after the inauguration of Bush’s second term on January 20, discussions have centred on a visit here in fall by Bush who has said more than once that he would like to visit India in 2005.

Recently, when Bush visited the Indian Embassy in Washington to express sympathies over the tsunami disaster, he said he assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, with whom he spoke on telephone, that “my intentions are to make it this year to India.”

Bush had expressed similar sentiments when he met Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in New York in September. India-US ties have been perhaps the best in a long time with members of a US congressional delegation that was here last week describing relations as “an all-time high, and getting better.” US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was here last month, had intensive talks with Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh on the evolving nature of what both countries call a “strategic relationship” that has strengthening military, technological and economic dimensions. Rumsfeld discussed with Indian officials the likely dates for a presidential visit this year, according to highly-placed sources.