Former US President George W Bush is a "great friend of our country".
This is how Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described him as he hailed the key role played by Bush in ending India's 34-year isolation in the nuclear field.
"We, in India, recognise the important role he (Bush) played in the fruition of the civil nuclear cooperation initiative," he said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit which will be addressed by the former US President tomorrow.
Singh, who later hosted lunch for Bush, had a year back told him that "people of India deeply love you".
Singh and Bush had taken a path-breaking decision on July 18, 2005 to enter into civil nuclear cooperation which led to lifting of sanctions by the Nuclear Suppliers Group on India for civil nuclear trade with the world in September last year.
Subsequent to the NSG decision, India has signed civil nuclear agreements with seven countries -- US, Russia, France, Mongolia, Namibia, Kazakhstan and Argentina.
"We are working with our international partners to give a boost to our nuclear power programme. This will be an important contribution to our efforts to use cleaner fuels and thus combat climate change," Singh said.
Significantly, Singh will be the first State guest to be received next month by the US under the 10-month-old Barack Obama administration.
During his visit to Washington under Bush Administration in September last year, Singh had told him, "In the last four and half years that I have been Prime Minister, I have been the recipient of your generosity, your affection, your friendship. It means a lot to me and to the people of India."
Singh had gone on to add, "When the history is written, I think it will be recorded that President George W Bush played a historic role in bringing our two democracies closer to each other."
At the Summit today, Singh noted that he was speaking on the birth centenary of visionary nuclear scientist Homi Bhabha, who had dreamt of using the atom for peaceful energy.
"In concluding the civil nuclear agreement, we sought to realise Dr Bhabha's dream of tapping the atom for the welfare of the people," the Prime Minister said, adding "It is only fitting that we pay tribute to Homi Bhabha's genius at a leadership summit". PTI