Washington: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met US President George W Bush here at the White House and discussed the entire gamut of bilateral ties, including the civil nuclear deal.
The 35-minute meeting, held at the Oval Office on Monday afternoon, was described as one in which the atmospherics were said to have been excellent and cordial.
Bush and Mukherjee are said to have exchanged not only pleasantries but also discussed the width and depth of the United States-India relations that included the civilian nuclear initiative.
Specific details of the meeting have not been made available to the media excepting the point that the Indian minister would like to describe them first hand at the press conference, now scheduled for Tuesday.
“You will know tomorrow from the Minister” was all that a senior official would say when asked of the details of the Mukherjee-Bush meeting.
Apart from the Minister, the Indian delegation at the Oval Office were the Ambassador of India, Ronen Sen, the Foreign Secretary Sivshankar Menon, the Deputy Chief of the Indian Mission here Raminder Singh Jassal and the Joint Secretary( Americas) of the Ministry of External Affairs, Gayatri Kumar.
Present with Bush were his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and his National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley.
Yet another critical meeting that took place on Monday was the one-on-one dinner between Rice and Mukherjee in which the two top functionaries are supposed to have gone much beyond their brief interaction at Foggy Bottom earlier in the morning.
Both Rice and Mukherjee said at the State department in the media interaction that their morning meeting was basically confined to regional issues of interest to the two sides and that a “lot more” was slated to be discussed in the evening, including the civilian nuclear initiative.
“We will continue to work on that agreement,” Rice said at her morning interaction after meeting Mukherjee.
“The Indians are now in a process of working with the IAEA and we will follow that progress and we will have further discussions on that matter,” she added.
Mukherjee is visiting Washington for the first time in his capacity as External Affairs Minister.