NEW DELHI // On the final morning of his three-day visit to India, the American president was given the ceremonial welcome reserved for visiting heads of state at the Indian president’s palace. He also thanked Indians for their “extraordinary hospitality”.
“We want to send our warmest regards from the people of the United States to India,” he said soon after the formal welcome. “The partnership between the United States and India will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.”
Barack and Michelle Obama arrived at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presidential limousine, flanked by guards on horses.
He was received by the Indian president, Pratibha Pail and the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh along with their spouses.
Mrs Obama, dressed in a long-sleeved black top with a purple flower on the left shoulder and a peacock green skirt sat back while her husband was presented with the guard of honour, which included 21 gun salutes, then the military band that played national anthem of both countries, followed by an inspection of the guards.
Today’s meeting with Indian ministers that will include Sharad Pawar, the Indian minister of agriculture, which has been a quiet but strong focus of the American president, who visited a fair in Mumbai yesterday to inspect innovative ways in which agriculture was being improved in India.
“We took this trip to strengthen an already existing relationship between the two countries,” said Mr Obama. “We share a core set of values. We will build the commercial ties, and a bilateral relationship in the international economy.”
He also emphasised a few points he has made throughout his time in India, including focusing on issues to counter terrorism, adding that a partnership to share information between the two countries will “secure India and the United States”.
“We will build on people to people ties,” he said, in an ode to Indian-Americans, acknowledging their contributions in the US. “Indian-Americans have given so much to our country. They have given us an appreciation of Indian life.”
Mr Obama and Mr Singh will speak at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi later this afternoon, following a meeting with politicians. Then Mr Obama will address the Indian parliament in a special session before returning to the Rashtrapati Bhavan with Mrs Patil for a gala dinner that will showcase Indian classical music and dance.