President Bush has welcomed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the White House for an official visit expected to focus on terrorism, commercial ties, and technology issues.
During an outdoor welcoming ceremony, President Bush hailed increased cooperation between the United States and India, which he described as an emerging economic power that is bringing benefits to its people. Mr. Bush said U.S.-Indian relations have never been stronger.
"Our people share the bonds of friendship, and a commitment to prosperity, peace and regional stability," said Mr. Bush. "Our nations believe in freedom, and our nations are confronting global terrorism. "
Mr. Bush, who spoke after the playing of both nation's national anthems and a 19-gun salute, said U.S.-Indian cooperation has been evident in the response to last December's devastating tsunami, and will continue to grow.
For his part, Prime Minister Singh said India and the United States are working together to confront global challenges.
"I am confident that from our talks today will emerge an agenda of cooperation that reflects a real transformation of our relationship," said Mr. Singh. "Its realization would help India meet the expectations of its people for the better quality of life, a more secure future and a greater ability to participate in global creativity."
The prime minister is widely expected to press Mr. Bush for greater access to U.S. nuclear-energy technology, despite the fact that U.S. law bars transferring such technology to nations that, like India, are not a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
India has also expressed a desire for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
This is the first visit to the White House by an Indian head of government in five years. Some observers say the United States hopes to cultivate closer ties with India, in part, as a counterweight to growing Chinese influence in Asia.