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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
Bush 'excited' over India-US ties
Natwar Singh (left) with George W Bush
President Bush (right) met Natwar Singh at the White House
US President George W Bush has said that is "extremely excited" about the state of Indo-US relations and pledged to take them to a "much higher level".

In a meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh in Washington, President Bush said that the US wanted to work closely with India.

Mr Bush told Mr Singh that he expected to visit India sometime in 2005.

Mr Singh is in the US on a three-day visit aiming at strengthening ties between the two countries.

His visit follows US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to India in March where the two sides decided to expand defence and energy cooperation.

Briefing reporters after the meeting between Mr Bush and Mr Singh, Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said the two leaders discussed energy cooperation - a "very important issue".

'Growing influence'

Mr Bush "said India and the US need to work in this particular area which would include the area of civil nuclear cooperation," Mr Saran said.

According to Mr Saran. Mr Bush said "he could not wait to visit India" sometime this year.

He also told Mr Singh that he was "very much looking forward" to receiving Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is due to visit the US in July.

Earlier, Mr Singh held a meeting with Ms Rice and discussed ways to bolster economic, energy and defence cooperation.

They also discussed India's demand to be included as a permanent member of an expanded UN security council.

"India is a growing influence in international politics and in international organisations more broadly. That's going to have to be accommodated," Ms Rice told a joint press conference with Mr Singh after the meeting.

During President George W Bush's first term, there was a significant transformation in India-US relations and the US was perceived as a strategic partner.

India and the US have overseen increased military ties, holding joint exercises and expanded civilian, space and hi-tech contacts.


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