India`s concerns served at dinner for Obama

US President and First Lady dined with PM and his wife at a private do at the latter’s residence.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle dined with PM Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur at a private do at the latter’s residence here on Sunday night.

The first couple reached 7, Race Course Road at the scheduled time of 7 pm for a dinner party where some 80 guests have been invited.

Before the dinner began, PM Singh held a one-on-one discussion with President Obama for about 25
minutes. Critical issues like terrorism emanating from Pakistan, proliferation and freedom of choice in defence deals, India’s inclusion in international proliferation regimes etc are reported to have been discussed. These are also the issues which will be on the table on Monday when the two sides hold meetings.

As Singh and Obama met separately, Michelle and Kaur too had a meeting before all four of them joined the guests for dinner.

Mahatma Gandhi`s favourite bhajan `Vaishnav Jan to
tene kahiye jay peerh paraaye janney ray` played by the Indian
Navy and BSF Camels Band was heard with rapt attention by
Obama, a self-confessed disciple of the Father of the Nation.

This was followed by the all-time hit from `Waqt` -- `O meri zohra jabeen, tujhe maloom nahin`.

The Obamas was seated on the head table with PM Singh, his wife, Sonia Gandhi, Pranab
Mukherjee and Rahul Gandhi.

The dinner started with shorba and mulagatani soups
and the main course included chingara jammu prongs, fish and
green-chilly lamb, kakori kababs, mughlai chicken, gobi, dal
dampukht, rice pulao and a variety of Indian breads.

The dessert included kesar phirni and mava poti. The
catering was from ITC Maurya where the Obamas are staying.

The guests included senior Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, A K Antony, P
Chidambaram, S M Krishna and Sharad Pawar, senior BJP leader L
K Advani and AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Also on the guest list were Anand Sharma, Prithviraj
Chavan, Salman Khursheed and US Ambassador to India Timothy J
Roemer, besides Sam Pitroda and Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Top business leaders Azim Premji, Ratan Tata, Swati
Piramal and N R Narayanamurthy were among the guests which
also included Bollywood personalities Aamir Khan, Shabana Azmi
and Javed Akthar.
Chess wizard Viswanathan Anand and Environmental
Activist Sunita Narain were also present at the dinner.

Aamir, interacting with mediapersons after the dinner, claimed Obama told him had heard about his films.

As Obama reached the Prime Minister`s residence, 30
camel-mounted BSF personnel welcomed him by playing bugles and
trumpets. Obama described the Camel band rendering as

The personnel in their traditional uniform played
different tunes which were enjoyed by the US President and

The residence was decked with flowers, lights and
rangoli designs.

Obama and Michelle went around different tables
greeting about 60 guests. They talked and shook hands with the
invitees, who included Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar

Sonia was introduced to the Obamas by the Prime
Minister while Michelle joined them a little later with Kaur.

Other guests included Union Ministers Kapil Sibal,
former NSA Brajesh Mishra, Indian Ambassador to US Meera
Shankar, Jamia Millia Vice Chancellor Najeeb Jung and DMK
Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi.

People were seated on different tables named after men
of letters and well-known economists like John Kenneth
Galbraith, Prof Robert Mcnamara and Prof Chawla.

When Prime Minister Singh had attended the State
Dinner hosted by Obama in Washington, the US President had
introduced his children to him. Now it was Singh`s turn to
introduce to the US First Couple his daughters, sons-in-law
and grandchildren.

The event was a strictly private affair with no
after-dinner speeches.

Earlier in the day, the Dr Manmohan Singh, in a rare and special gesture, received the visiting United States President Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama at the Air Force Station, Palam in New Delhi.

Obama and Michelle warmly met the Prime Minister and his wife on arrival at the airport and spent a few moments interacting with them.

The Obamas then visited Mughal heritage monument Humayun’s Tomb where they soaked into the history of India. They met with some children of workers there as well and gave them gifts. Obama praised the presence of historical monuments right in the middle of modern Delhi.

-Agencies inputs