Obama keen to talk to Manmohan Singh; calls India natural ally

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : With President Barack Obama seeing US and India as “natural allies”, he is now looking forward to speak to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as soon as he gets well.

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“I think the President would like to certainly express and extend his best wishes to the Prime Minister, as he recovers from surgery, and looks forward to talking to him soon,” Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters at the White House Wednesday.

“I can give you guys a readout on that (whenever the two leaders talk),” he said.

In his message on India’s Republic Day too Obama had wished the Prime Minister speedy recovery.

Apparently Manmohan Singh’s hospitalisation for heart bypass surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi has kept the two leaders from talking to each other over phone after Obama took over Jan 20.

Asked about relationship between the US and India under the Obama Administration, Gibbs said: “Without getting into a lot of specifics, I think that the President believes that, obviously, the US and India are natural friends and natural allies,”

“The President looks forward over the course of his term to strength and deepen the partnership that’s been built between the two countries over these past many years, to strengthen those ties,” he said.

Gibbs said White House would have more to say about building relationship between the two countries in the future.

As it focuses on Pakistan and Afghanistan, the White House has for some reason chosen not to unveil the new administration’s India policy, but a couple of statements so far point towards a continuation of former President George Bush’s policy to shape India-US ties into a “strategic partnership”.

In his Republic Day message also Obama said the Indian people “should know that they have no better friend and partner than the people of the US”.

Noting that the two “nations have built broad and vibrant partnerships in every field of human endeavour,” he then said: “It is our shared values that form the bedrock of a robust relationship across peoples and governments.”

“Those values and ideals provide the strength that enables us to meet any challenge, particularly from those who use violence to try to undermine our free and open societies,” he added.