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India's New PM to Meet with Bush, Musharraf at UN - 2004-09-19

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets this week in New York with President Bush and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Indian officials say that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meetings with President Bush and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf are significant.

They say his talks with President Bush will focus on high technology transfers to India. Just two days before their meeting Tuesday, Washington lifted restrictions on nuclear technology exports to India.

Indian strategic affairs analyst Professor Raja Mohan welcomes the move.

"It is a major achievement, both in terms of breaching the technology blockade, as well as the consolidation of the relationship with the United States," he said.

The United States imposed the ban on India and Pakistan in 1998, after the South Asian arch-rivals conducted atomic weapons tests. The restrictions included the sale of technology that could potentially be used for developing weapons.

Mr. Singh meets with General Musharraf on Friday. Before leaving New Delhi, he lifted some visa restrictions on Pakistanis that had been in place for decades.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna says it was a goodwill move.

"The government of India has decided to further liberalize visas for Pakistani nationals."

Earlier this year, India and Pakistan resumed talks in an effort to resolve their decades-old dispute over Kashmir. The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two wars over the region, and the international community has repeatedly expressed its concern about continuing tensions.

In New York, Mr. Singh also will meet with leaders from Germany, Japan, and Brazil, who are working to secure permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council.

India has been lobbying hard for a permanent seat, saying it is qualified because it has one-fifth of the world's population and is a democracy and economic power.