PM likely to meet Obama, Wen during East Asia Summit

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to hold talks with US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit later this month, officials here said Friday.

The bilateral meetings "are being worked out, and it will be known in a few days", official sources told IANS.

Obama, who has been re-elected for a second term, called up Manmohan Singh to personally thank him for his congratulatory message and expressed his "desire to continue close cooperation moving ahead".

Manmohan Singh and Obama had a telephonic conversation Thursday evening, an official statement from Prime Minister's Office in New Delhi said.

His meeting with the Chinese premier could probably be their last official meeting with China set for its once-in-a-decade leadership change this week. Both Wen and President Hu Jintao are to be replaced by the younger, Li Keqiang and Xi Jinping respectively, who are to take over in March.

Chances of a meeting between Manmohan and Obama look likely as the Indian prime minister was among the 13 world leaders that Obama personally called up to thank. The others include Australia's Julia Gillard, Canada's Stephen Harper and the United Kingdom's David Cameron, according to a readout of the White House list of names.

On his first foreign tour after his re-election, Obama is to visit Myanmar, becoming the first US president to do so - in acknowledgment of the country's embracing of democracy.

Obama will also travel to Cambodia, another first for a US president, and to Thailand during his Nov 17-20 trip.

In Cambodia, Obama will attend the East Asia summit in Phnom Penh and also meet with leaders of ASEAN nations.

Earlier this year, Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first US secretary of state in five decades to visit Myanmar. The State Department announced Friday that Clinton would join Obama in Bangkok and travel with him to Myanmar and Cambodia.

During their telephonic talk, Manmohan Singh congratulated Obama on his re-election and wished him success for his second term in office.

He added that this had given an opportunity to the two countries to carry forward and build on the enormous successes that had been achieved in the bilateral partnership in the last few years.

"Prime minister also expressed his appreciation for the personal interest and commitment that President Obama had brought to the relationship and said that he looked forward to continuing their close cooperation to pursue their shared vision for the India-US strategic partnership," the PMO said.

A White House readout of the president's phone calls with world leaders Thursday said: "Since Tuesday evening, the president has been receiving messages from his counterparts around the world congratulating him on winning re-election to a second term in office."

"The president appreciates all of these messages and looks forward to continuing to work with all of his fellow leaders to address the serious challenges we face together in the world.

"This morning the president was able to return some of these messages personally, by phone. In each call, he thanked his counterpart for their friendship and partnership thus far and expressed his desire to continue close cooperation moving ahead," it said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be in Cambodia Nov 18-20 for the ASEAN and East Asia Summit.