- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2001

A 'little chat with India
President Bush suprised Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh by dropping in on a meeting in one part of the White House and inviting him over to the Oval Office.
"Why dont we go back to the Oval Office for a little chat," he told Mr. Singh.
About 40 minutes later, the foreign minister emerged smiling from the unscheduled meeting, saying he was "more than satisfied."
"I am honored that President Bush, himself, was gracious enough to find time to meet me and spend time with me," Mr. Singh told reporters after last weeks meeting.
He gave the Indian press details of his meeting with Mr. Bush, explaining that they discussed issues ranging from national missile defense to the Kyoto climate treaty. Mr. Bush also praised the many accomplishments of Indian-Americans.
Mr. Singh responded, "By the grace of God, my countrymen are gifted with fine minds, but your great land of opportunity has also nourished them.
Mr. Singh also recalled that Mr. Bushs father had boosted U.S.-Indian relations during his term in the presidency and asked the younger Bush to carry on.
"I certainly will," Mr. Bush replied.
Mr. Bush also accepted an invitation to visit India for talks with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, but no date was announced.
Mr. Singh held talks with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Mr. Singh also serves as defense minister.
He said Mr. Powell raised the issue of U.S. sanctions imposed on India after it conducted nuclear weapons tests in 1998. They prevent the sale of computer technology, rocket motors, supercomputers and military equipment.
"I did tell him that I do not find the sanctions themselves in the national interest of either India or the United States of America," Mr. Singh said.
Mr. Powell told reporters, "Ive just had a very, very fine meeting with ."
He said the meetings with Mr. Bush, Miss Rice and Mr. Rumsfeld were "indicative of the importance with which we view our relationship with India."
"I assured the minister that we would be engaging between our two governments and our two departments at every level in order to make sure that we keep moving this relationship in a very positive and powerful direction."


More on Vietnam
The U.S. ambassador to Vietnam is trying to assure Hanoi that it has nothing to fear from President Bush, who is taking a harder line on the communist government than the Clinton administration did.
"I am confident our relationship will endure whatever delays or impasses that may appear at the moment," Ambassador Douglas Peterson told reporters in Hanoi yesterday.
"There will always be problems between nations, I think the relationship we have built here with the Vietnamese is a strong one and enduring one," said Mr. Peterson, who was appointed by Mr. Clinton and asked to stay on by Mr. Bush.
Vietnam has become irritated with the new administration on a range of foreign policy issues, including Mr. Bushs handling of the standoff with China over the downed U.S. surveillance plane. Hanoi is also angered by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has called on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to withhold loans to Vietnam because of its violations of religious rights.
Most recently, Vietnam has denounced the United States for granting asylum to 24 Vietnamese who fled from a crackdown on religious activities in the central highlands. Vietnam has also accused the United States of encouraging protests in the region.
Mr. Peterson was speaking yesterday at the funeral of the ninth Vietnamese soldier who was killed with seven Americans in a helicopter crash on Saturday, while they were searching for the remains of Americans still listed as missing in action from the Vietnam War. On Tuesday, he spoke at the funeral for the other eight Vietnamese soldiers.
"We have a shared grief, certainly a commitment to build on a relationship that the ones who died in this accident helped to create," he said. "We are going to live their spirit now to continue to build a very strong understanding and compassion."


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