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PM leaves for Port of Spain after four-day US visit

November 26, 2009 19:44 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday wound up his four-day State visit here, first by a foreign leader under the 10-month-old Obama Administration, during which the two countries decided to transform their ties into "one of the defining" relationships of the 21st century.

Singh was given a warm send-off in the form of a 19-gun salute and guard of honour amid a drizzle at the Andrews Air Force base, as he left for Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, where he will attend the two-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting beginning on Friday.

India and the US signed Memoranda of Understanding in counter-terrorism and five other pacts during the visit that marked recognition of the special status accorded to India by President Barack Obama, who shares a special rapport with Singh.

Singh held talks with Obama on the entire gamut of bilateral relations, situation in the region and global challenges like terrorism, climate change and economic crisis.

"I am satisfied with the visit," Singh said hours before wrapping up the trip and travelling to Port of Spain.

One of the key highlights of the visit was the State banquet hosted by Obama at the White House for Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur, a gala event to which enormous colour was added by a cultural programme and special Indian cuisine.

The visit received immense attention in the American media, which commented on the rising influence and leadership of India.

Describing his tour as very productive, Singh said, "I am confident that we cannot only continue but also strengthen the momentum of our relations built up in the last few years."

He said Obama recognised the important role India-US relations can play in meeting the global challenges of the 21st century.

"We agreed that there is a historic opportunity for India and the United States to work together for world peace and stability on the basis of our shared values, consensus and cooperation," he said.

"We discussed several ideas on how we can work together to accelerate global economic recovery and put it on a more sustainable and balanced path in the future," Singh said.

Explaining the reason for inviting Singh as his State guest, Obama said it "reflects our admiration for the prime minister's leadership, the deep bonds between the peoples of the United States and India, and the historic opportunity we have to strengthen and broaden the partnership between our nations."

He noted that India today is a rising and responsible global power whose leadership in Asia is expanding prosperity and security across the region.

"The United States welcomes and encourages India's leadership role in helping to shape the rise of a stable, peaceful and prosperous Asia," he said.
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