Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said Thursday that India and the United States must fight terrorism wherever it exists.
"We seek a world free of poverty, ignorance, disease and the threat of terrorism. The US and India must work together in all possible fora to these ends," Prime Minister Singh said, welcoming American President George W Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at a banquet hosted by the prime minister in their honour.
"We must fight terrorism wherever it exists, because terrorism anywhere threatens democracy everywhere," Dr Singh said.
He pointed out that India wanted a neighbourhood of peace and prosperity, and that the subcontinent, which has been home to all great religions, was a "powerhouse" of human creativity.
"With wisdom and farsightedness, we South Asians can transform not just this region but the whole world," he declared.
In the journey of development, modernisation, social change and empowerment, India saw the United States as a "partner, a friend and a well-wisher," the prime minister added.
Describing Bush as a "true friend" of India, Prime Minister Singh said he had always been touched by the American leader's warm praise for this country and the Indian people.
"We sincerely acknowledge your (Bush's) deep personal commitment to a closer economic and strategic partnership between our two countries," Dr Singh said, recalling that at their very first meeting the American President had paid tributes to India's efforts to achieve an open society and open economy.
"I am deeply touched by your admiration for Indian democracy and our commitment to pluralism and modernism," the prime minister said.
Lauding the stand taken by Bush against the upsurge of protectionist forces in the US, Dr Singh said that by his actions, the American President had not only cemented closer relations between the two countries, but also helped the US retain its edge in the global market.
Dr Singh said he hoped that Bush would return to India to spend time with students and teachers and discover a new India in the making.
"I am truly sorry that the President is not taking you to Taj Mahal this time," the prime minister told First Lady Laura Bush. "I hope he will be more chivalrous the next time you are here!"
United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Inder Kumar Gujral, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Lal Kishenchand Advani, several Cabinet Ministers, some chief ministers, Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh, Congress Member of Parliament Rahul Gandhi, Rajya Sabha member Shobhana Bhartia, sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Censor Board Chairperson Sharmila Tagore were among those present at the banquet, besides top officials, industrialists and American delegates.
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