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Bush Officially Opens Visit to India


President Bush has officially begun his first visit to India Thursday with a welcoming ceremony at an historic palace.

President Bush began his first full day in India with ceremony and symbolism.

A military band played as Mr. Bush stood with India's leaders on the grounds of an historic ornate building known as "the president's house." Once the residence of the British Viceroy, it later served as the home of India's first president, Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

"It is an honor to be here. I have never been to India before and I have been looking forward to this trip for a very long time. I am looking forward to working with the prime minister to foster a very important relationship."

President Bush then went directly to a place sacred to India - the spot where the man often referred to as the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was cremated in 1948 following his assassination by a Hindu extremist.

Ceremony then turned to substance as Mr. Bush opened talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. At the top of their agenda is completion of a civilian nuclear power cooperation agreement.

Under the deal, the United States would provide help for India's nuclear power plants. In exchange, the Indian government would put those plants under international safeguards.

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