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Obama woos Modi in India trip
January 25, 2015, 2:30 pm

US President Barack Obama does a Namaste, a traditional Indian greeting, flanked by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee (center) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on 25 January 2015 [Xinhua]

US President Barack Obama does a Namaste, a traditional Indian greeting, flanked by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee (center) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on 25 January 2015 [Xinhua]

Visiting US President Barack Obama said on Sunday that deeper ties with India would be top US foreign policy priority as Washington stepped up a charm drive to woo the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Deeper ties with India will be America’s top foreign policy priority,” Obama said at a joint press conference with the Indian Prime Minister in New Delhi.

Obama also expressed US support for India in its bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.

The Indian Prime Minister said on Sunday that the two countries have reached an agreement to break a six-year impasse on the landmark civil nuclear deal.

“The civil nuclear deal was the centerpiece of Indo-U.S. understanding. Six years after we signed a bilateral agreement we are moving towards commercial viability,” Modi said at a joint press conference with Obama.

“In the past four months, we have got a sense of purpose to move it forward. The success of this partnership is crucial to advancing peace and prosperity,” he added.

The Indo-US civil nuclear deal was drafted in 2008, but had been stalled over tough provisions in this country’s liability act.

The two sides reached an agreement that resolved differences over the liability of suppliers to India in the event of a nuclear accident and US demands on tracking the nuclear material supplied to India.

The White House said in a statement that the governments had reached an agreement on the nuclear deal but it was up to US firms to do individual risk assessment.

Stressing that both India and the United States are committed to working together “to address our interests in the Asia-Pacific, ” President Obama said: “We will jointly develop defense technologies.”

Modi said the two nations “will also work closely to help Afghanistan through its transition”.

The two sides renewed a strategic defense partnership for ten years.

“We have agreed, in principle, to pursue co-development and co-production of specific advanced defence projects. These will help upgrade our domestic defence industry; and expand the manufacturing sector in India,” said Indian Prime Minister Modi.

India and US will also establish hotlines between the two leaders, Modi and Obama and two countries’ national security advisors.

On trade relations between the two countries, the US president said, “It has increased by over 60 per cent, but we want to trade more.”

India needs billions of dollars in investment and that makes trade and investment an important component of the visit.

The two countries are aiming to reach $500 billion bilateral trade by 2020, five times the current volume.

“We are also launching a new joint program to improve air quality in Indian cities,” Obama said adding that Washington has agreed to extend additional financing for solar energy to India.

Obama, who will attend the Republic Day celebrations on Monday, is the first US president to visit India twice during his tenure.

Earlier on Sunday Obama met his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee and paid homage to the country’s pre-independence icon Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. Gandhi, Obama says, has been one of the key inspirational figures in his political life.

 

TBP and Agencies

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