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Bush to Meet With India's PM

Terrorism, defense and trade issues are expected to dominate the talks July 18 at the White House between President Bush (search) and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (search).

"The visit marks the next stage in the expanding and deepening U.S.-India relationship, building on the recent high-level exchanges and initiatives between the two governments," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Friday in Crawford, Texas, where Bush was spending time at his ranch.

The Bush administration has offered New Delhi an upgraded version of the F-16 fighter jet and is looking into setting up nuclear power plants (search) to meet India's growing energy needs. India has still not decided whether to accept the F-16 offer.

"India and the United States are jointly engaged in the process of widening and deepening their multifaceted cooperative relationship," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said Friday in a statement. The prime minister's visit "will take this process further based on a shared vision of the leaders of the two democracies."

But closer ties with the United States could face opposition from communist parties that are providing key support to Singh's coalition government.

Last year, India and the United States completed the first phase of a deal to cooperate on issues including high-technology trade, space, civilian nuclear safety and missile defense. India is seeking to forge closer defense ties with the United States, and Indian and U.S. air forces regularly carry out joint exercises in each other's airspace.

In recent months, the two sides have worked closely on several issues, including aid efforts after the Asian tsunami and a diplomatic response to the seizure of power by Nepal's King Gyanendra (search) in February.