Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Barrack Obama at the White House on Tuesday to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations.
It was second such meeting between the two leaders since Modi became India’s prime minister in May 2014. The PM’s ongoing visit to the US is significant for India’s growing role in world affairs, as Modi is not only trying to consolidate the progress in the India-US relationship, but also lay the groundwork for relations with the next regime in Washington. His fourth visit to the US in two years is different from the earlier three. While Modi’s previous visits were marked by large diaspora and business events, the current one is more of a “State-to-State conversation”.
During their meeting, the visiting Indian PM thanked President Obama for his support to the South Asian nation in its bid for membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Speaking at a post-meeting press conference, Modi said: “Want to thank my close friend President Obama. We discussed a range of issues. I also thank the US Congress for inviting me. We are working shoulder to shoulder. We are proud. We will continue working together.” He told the American media: “India is a young country, over 800 million of Indians below age of 35. Our youth power in partnership with the US will serve mankind.” He expressed hope that New Delhi and Washington would work together to ensure global peace and prosperity in the coming years.
The two leaders also discussed ways to take the bilateral economic ties to new heights and other important global issues, like terrorism, clean energy, climate change, regional security and cyber security. Ahead of his meeting with President Obama, the visiting PM “demonstrated” India’s leadership on the issue of climate change.
Press Secretary of White House Josh Earnest said that Washington is satisfied with India’s role in completing an international climate change agreement. He told the press that India and the US had discussed New Delhi’s role in making important commitments to the Climate Change agreement in Paris in December. According to him, the South Asian country has worked hard to confront the challenge. “Prime Minister Modi demonstrated a lot of leadership even in the face of a difficult political climate back home. He committed his country to standards that will be good for the Indian people, but more importantly, will be good for the rest of the world, too,” stressed Earnest.
The spokesperson added: “President Obama has a lot of respect for the way that Prime Minister Modi has handled this issue. The US and India also discussed the economic ties between our two countries. The economic relationship between the two countries is an important one. It is a relationship that benefits both our citizens.”
As far as MTCR membership is concerned, diplomats said that PM Modi registered a big win with members of the Regime – a key anti-proliferation grouping – which agreed to India’s entry. They believe that admission to the MTCR will open the way for India to acquire high-end missile technology, making more realistic its aspiration to purchase state-of-the-art surveillance drones, such as the US Predator.
Premier Modi has also been lobbying successfully with countries, like Switzerland, to gain support for India’s bid to join the NSG, a club of 48 countries that trade nuclear technology. The US backing for India’s membership of the NSG will strengthen India’s geopolitical clout, apart from helping it capitalise on nuclear trade and technology transfer opportunities.
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Modi began his three-day US visit by laying a wreath at the ‘Tomb of Unknown Soldiers’ and paying homage to Indian-American astronaut late Kalpana Chawla at Arlington National Cemetery.