NEW DELHI, March 3: US President George W. Bush, seeking to balance his delicate ties with India and Pakistan, appeared to offer comfort to both on Friday by giving New Delhi the responsibility to build democracy in Afghanistan and assigning Pakistan the role of a moderator in the turbulent Arab world.

In a widely televised address from Delhi’s 16th century Purana Qila, once a bastion of Afghan prowess in India, President Bush described Pakistan as an important partner and friend of the United States.

“There was a time when America’s good relations with Pakistan would have been a source of concern here in India. That day is passed. India is better off because America has a close relationship with Pakistan, and Pakistan is better off because America has a close relation with India,” President Bush said.

“On my trip to Islamabad, I will meet with President Musharraf to discuss Pakistan’s vital cooperation in the war on terror and our efforts to foster economic and political development so we can reduce the appeal of radical Islam. I believe that a prosperous, democratic Pakistan will be a steadfast partner for America, a peaceful neighbour for India, and a force for freedom and moderation in the Arab world.”

Describing India’s democracy as one that benefits the world, President Bush lauded New Delhi’s new role in Afghanistan.

“As a global power, India has an historic duty to support democracy around the world. In Afghanistan, which I just visited on Wednesday, the world is beginning to see what India’s leadership can accomplish.”

Since the Taliban government was removed from power, India has pledged $565 million to help the Afghan people to get back on their feet.

“Your country has trained National Assembly staff, and developing a similar programme for the Assembly’s elected leaders. You recently announced that you’ll provide an additional $50 million to help the Afghans complete their National Assembly building.

“After so many years of suffering, the Afghan people are reclaiming a future of hope and freedom, and they will always remember that in their hour of need, India stood with them,” President Bush said.

“India in the 21st century is a natural partner of the United States because we are brothers in the cause of human liberty,” he said.

Last summer in Washington, America and India reached an agreement to share civilian nuclear technology and to bring India’s civilian nuclear programmes under the safeguards of the International Atomic Agency, President Bush said.

“In our meetings this week, Prime Minister Singh and I agreed on a plan to implement this historic initiative. Our agreement will strengthen the security and the economy of both our nations.

“By applying the most advanced technology and international standards to India’s civilian nuclear programme, we will increase safety and reduce the risk of proliferation. And by helping India meet its energy needs, we will take the pressure off the price of fossil fuels for consumers in India and America and around the world. We’ll help India be good stewards of our environment, and we will strengthen the bonds of trust between our two great nations.”

President Bush said America and India are global leaders and good friends. One of their purposes is to confront the threats of our time by fighting terror and advancing freedom across the globe.

“Both our nations have known the pain of terror on our home soil. On September 11th, 2001, nearly 3,000 innocent people were murdered in my country, including more than 30 who were born in India. Just over three years ago, terrorists struck the Parliament House here in Delhi, an attack on the heart of Indian democracy. In both our countries, people have struggled to understand the reason for terrorist assaults on free societies.”

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