With n-deal on menu, Bush to host Manmohan in Family Room

September 24th, 2008 - 9:43 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew York, Sep 24 (IANS) With the nuclear deal as the main course on the menu, US President George Bush will host a working dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday in the Old Family Dining Room in the White House - a private space where history-making decisions are made by American presidents.Besides the nuclear deal, there will be a buffet of big-ticket items on the table when Manmohan Singh and Bush sup with their close aides in a cosy space of about 28 feet by 25 feet where Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt reportedly brainstormed during World War II.

It will also be a walk down history as Manmohan Singh ambles up to his dinner date with Bush with portraits of past occupants of Old Family Dining staring at him.

Bush also hosts lunches in this room for small groups of writers, historians and journalists to discuss a book or weighty issues on his mind.

Only a select few from both sides have been invited for this potentially historic dinner. Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on the nuclear deal and climate change Shyam Saran and India’s ambassador to US Ronen Sen will be sharing the table with Manmohan Singh and Bush.

US Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns will be among those present from the American side.

The Family Dining Room is used by the First Family to host small formal dinners. Built by the Madisons, the first floor’s smaller dining room was originally meant for family meals and was thought of as the “breakfast room” until 1961 when Jackie Kennedy created a dining room upstairs.

These days, the room is used for staging state dinners. Members of the president’s staff often get shunted from the Dining Room by last-minute guests and land up in what has come to be called an “an overflow” room.

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