President Obama Welcomes Prime Minister Singh of India

November 24, 2009 | 14:18

The President and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India speak during an arrival ceremony to welcome the Prime Minister to the White House for an official state visit. November 24, 2009. (Public Domain)

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Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Singh of India during Arrival Ceremony

9:25 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Prime Minister Singh, Mrs. Gursharan Kaur, members of the Indian delegation -- on behalf of Michelle and myself, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to the White House.  On behalf of the American people, it is my great honor to welcome you to the United States.

Mr. Prime Minister, yours is the first official state visit of my presidency, and it is fitting that you and India be so recognized.  (Applause.)  This visit reflects the high esteem in which I and the American people hold your wise leadership.  It reflects the abiding bonds of respect and friendship between our people, including our friends in the Indian American community who join us here today. 

But above all, your visit, at this pivotal moment in history, speaks to the opportunity before us -- to build the relationship between our nations, born in the last century, into one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.

For while our two nations have taken different paths to reach this moment, ours is a common story.  It's the story of two proud people who struggled to break free from an empire and declare their independence.  Two bold experiments in democracy with constitutions that begin with the same simple words:  "We the people."  Two great republics dedicated to the ideals of liberty, justice, equality, and the never-ending work of perfecting their union. 

It's the story of two economic marvels fueled by an ethic of hard work and innovation.  And today, our nations are two global leaders, driven not to dominate other nations but to build a future of security and prosperity for all nations. 

Mr. Prime Minister, as we work to build that future, India is indispensable.

As leading economies, the United States and India can strengthen the global economic recovery, promote trade that creates jobs for both our people, and pursue growth that is balanced and sustained.

As nuclear powers, we can be full partners in preventing the spread of the world's most deadly weapons, securing loose nuclear materials from terrorists, and pursuing our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

As people who've known the pain and anguish of terrorism, we can stand together -- cooperating to prevent future attacks, and promote the development and prosperity that undermines violent extremism.

As India becomes an increasingly influential global power, we can partner to meet other transnational challenges:  developing clean energy partnerships, confronting climate change, stopping infectious disease, reducing hunger and working to end extreme poverty in our time.

And as the world's largest democracies, we can keep faith with our common values -- speaking out and standing up for the rights and dignity to which all human beings are entitled; and showing that nations that respect the rights and aspirations of their people are ultimately more stable, more secure and more successful. 

This is the India that America welcomes today -- a leader in Asia and around the world.  (Applause.)  These are the challenges we are summoned to meet in partnership.  This is the progress that is possible -- today and in the days and years ahead. 

And, Mr. Prime Minister, as we build our common future, we can draw strength from our shared past.  For it was exactly 60 years ago, in a ceremony not unlike this, that an American president welcomed to the White House the first prime minister of an independent India.  And while the decades that followed were not without their challenges, the spirit of that first visit is with us today -- the same sense of possibility, the same hope for the future.

So as President Truman said of President Nehru, it is my privilege to welcome "the respected leader of a great nation of free people."

And as Prime Minister Nehru said of the work before them, may our two great nations "find many ways of working together in friendly and fruitful cooperation to our mutual advantage, and for the good of humanity."

Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Kaur, in that spirit, I welcome you to the United States of America.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER SINGH:  Mr. President, First Lady Mrs. Obama, thank you very much for your warm words of welcome, Mr. President.  My wife and I are deeply honored to be in your great country on the first state visit of your presidency.  (Applause.) 

Mr. President, I bring to you and the people of the United States of America the friendly greetings of our one billion people of India.  (Applause.) 

India and America are separated by distance, but bound together by the values of democracy, pluralism, rule of law, and respect for fundamental human freedoms.  Over the years, we have built upon these values and created a partnership that is based upon both principle and pragmatism.  Our relations have been transformed, and today they encompass cooperation in all areas of human activity.

Mr. President, I've come today to build upon these successes and to strengthen our multifaceted relationship.  We seek to broaden and deepen our strategic partnership, and to work with the United States to meet these challenges of a fast-changing world in this 21st century.  (Applause.)

This is a moment of great opportunity in our relationship.  India and the United States can, and must, work together to harness the immense potential of our talented and enterprising people, and support each other's growth and prosperity.  We should cooperate in addressing global challenges of combating terrorism, making our environment cleaner and moving towards a world free of nuclear weapons.  (Applause.)

Mr. President, we deeply appreciate your strong personal commitment to our bilateral relationship.  My wife and I are deeply grateful to you and the First Lady for receiving us during this Thanksgiving week. 

With these words, I once again thank you, Mr. President.  God bless America.  God bless India.  (Applause.)

9:35 A.M. EST

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