On Board Air India One: India and the US have entered a new phase of "cordiality and understanding", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here on Friday after his meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ahead of the visit of President Barack Obama.
Manmohan Singh, who met Hillary in Hanoi for about 45 minutes during a packed day in which he attended the India-ASEAN and the East Asia summits as well as held three bilateral meetings, said there was a common desire to bring about a qualitative change in the relationship.
"India-US relations have entered a new phase. There is cordiality, there is understanding. It is our common desire to bring about qualitative changes in our relationship," the Prime Minister told reporters on his way home.
"We have economic and strategic interactions. We are strategic partners."
He added that there were "many areas of interest which we must explore with the US if there are commonality of views".
In the run up to the November 06-09 Obama visit to Mumbai and New Delhi, the two sides are discussing the way to carry the civil nuclear relationship forward.
According to National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon: "One of the things we are working on is to carry the civil nuclear relationship forward. The DAE (Department of Atomic Energy) is talking to US firms… These are practical discussions."
Both sides were agreed that the Obama visit would be a "historic one, which would enable us to add content to our strategic partnership". This covered the gamut, be it exploring political areas, economy, trade and commerce and security.
"Both sides expressed satisfaction at the state of preparations," Menon said.
He added that while the main topic of discussion when Hillary called on the Prime Minister was the upcoming Obama visit beginning November 06, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the situation in the region were also talked about.
"She welcomed the work we are doing in Afghanistan," Menon said, adding the US asked India to continue the task of reconstruction.
The two spoke about sharing of information on counter terror cooperation.
According to the NSA, US arms to Pakistan not related to counter terrorism was certainly an issue.
"The US knows our views and they know what our concerns are," he said, adding he did not want to anticipate the outcome of the Obama-Manmohan talks.