With the financial meltdown in the US gripping his administration, President George W Bush told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the one person he wanted to spend time with was the Indian leader for his calming and serene effect.
Bush's thoughts in this regard came around when the Prime Minister expressed gratitude to the President that in the middle of all his pre-occupation with the financial situation he found time and that they had spent the time together during a meeting at the White House.
President Bush said in return that in the middle of all this, the one person he wanted to spend time with was the Prime Minister for his calming and serene effect, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told newsmen.
The issue of financial crisis itself has come out on most occasions due to the Prime Minister's background for being such a renowned economist with a lot of experience.
Menon said that the Prime Minister is the first to say himself that he does not think there are any simple answers to deal with the financial crisis.
Singh told Bush what he thought about the crisis when it came up in passing. The issue had also come up during Singh's discussions with World Bank President Robert Zoellick in New York where they went into much more details about the role of multilateral organisations in dealing with and giving warning about such crises before they happen.
Menon said in India's view the financial crisis is already affecting growth in developing countries and other economies.
"That for us is bad effect because when it starts affecting people who cannot afford to take a cut then it becomes a serious global issue."
Bush appreciates PM's briefing
The resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan and tribal regions of Pakistan figured prominently in talks between Singh and Bush with indications of a convergence of approach on how to deal with the looming threat to the world community.
"I thank you for your advice on a range of matters. I appreciated very much your briefing on the neighbourhood in which you live. It's very informative and it helps me make decisions and formulate policy," Bush said during a joint press interaction with Singh at the Oval office in the White House.
Bush's remarks pointed to the vastly changed equation in the Indo-US strategic relations since the days of Cold War when Pakistan was considered a close ally of America which used it as a counter to India.
It also indicated a shift in the focus of the US-led war against terror from Iraq to the Afghan frontier.
Briefing reporters on the Singh-Bush meeting, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said the two leaders touched issues of regional importance, including the need to continue support to Afghanistan's transformation into a peaceful society and to free the region from terrorism.
Bush's comments on the "briefing on the neighbourhood" comes just hours after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari addressed the UN general Assembly, expressing Pakistan's "determination" to fight terrorism.
Dinner at Old Family Dining Room
Bush's dinner in honour of Dr Singh at the Old Family Dining Room at the White House was a 'very relaxed' one with fish being one of the dishes on the menu.
An Indian delegation member said the mood last night was relaxed and the food was very nice. There were no speeches since it was not a formal dinner.
On the US side, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, US Ambassador to India David Mulford, Assistant Secretary of State William Burns, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and two other State department officials were present.
On the Indian side, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia,
National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, Special Envoy to PM Shyam Saran and three other officials were present.
"It was a small dinner and a very relaxed one," he said.
The first family of the US hosts small formal dinners at the Family Dining Room, which was built by the Madisons.
The first floor's smaller dining room was originally meant for family meals till 961 when Jackie Kennedy, the wife of former President John F Kennedy, created a dining room upstairs. Now the room is used for hosting state dinners.