Ten things you should know about Modi-Obama meeting at White House

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Jun 08, 2016 13:12 IST
PM Narendra Modi with US President Barack Obama during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Barack Obama on Tuesday on the penultimate leg of his whirlwind five-nation tour, during which the Indian leader hopes to strengthen “strategic partnership in diverse areas”.

Modi discussed the challenges posed by extremism with the US President and the two leaders underlined the need to ensure the participation of civil society and minority communities to address the issue, officials said.

India also agreed to work toward joining the Paris Agreement on climate change this year. The two countries also pledged to expand military cooperation and outlined principles for cooperation on cyber issues.

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Below are the 10 things you should know about Modi’s meeting with US President Obama and the joint statement issued about shared goals and plans.

1. Third summit: This was Modi and Obama’s third bilateral summit and their seventh meeting in all. They first met in 2014, over dinner at the White House, when the Prime Minister was fasting for Navratra. His hosts were reportedly nervous going into the dinner-meeting, but everything went fine.

2. Big leap in defence partnership: Noting that the US-India defence cooperation can become an anchor for stability, the joint statement said the US recognises India as a major defence partner. In other words, the US will facilitate technology sharing with India at the same level as it does with its closest allies and partners. India would receive license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in conjunction with steps that India has committed to take to advance its export control objectives.

3. Nuclear, a done deal: Modi and Obama welcomed the start of preparatory work onsite in India for six AP 1000 reactors to be built by Westinghouse . India and the US Export-Import Bank will work together towards a competitive financing package for the project. Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind. The two sides welcomed the announcement by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd and Westinghouse that they would work to finalise the contractual arrangements by June 2017.

4. Multilateral regimes: The leaders looked forward to India’s imminent entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime. President Obama welcomed India’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) , and re-affirmed that India is ready for the membership.

5. Climate change goals: Both leaders reiterated their determination to implement the Paris deal, though there was a minor difference in their perception of the timeline. The US wants to sign the agreement by the end of the year, before the end of Obama’s term, and believed India was committed to the same goal under a “shared objective”. However, India doesn’t quite see it that way. India has committed to work with the US on a global HFC-reduction deal, which experts said was extremely significant.

6. Lockstep on terrorism: In a sign of growing understanding on combating terrorism, the two countries said they were committed to “bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism anywhere in the world”, which was taken to mean the US will now push Pakistan to speedily try perpetrators of the Pathankot and Mumbai terrorist attacks.

7. People-to-people interaction: India and the US will open additional consulates in each other’s country — India will open one in Seattle, while the US will pick a city at a later date. The two countries will also be “Travel and Tourism Partner Countries for 2017”.

8. Expedited entry programme: India will join a small group of countries whose citizens are given expedited clearance through US customs and immigration at select airports. This facility is open only to low-risk individuals pre-cleared by both countries. Indian officials believe this will especially benefit business travellers.

9. Finalised, but not signed: India and the US have finalised a defence agreement called Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement that would give the two countries access to the other’s military bases around the world. The two countries also committed to deepen cooperation on cybersecurity and welcomed the understanding to finalise the Framework for the US-India Cyber Relationship in the near future.

10. Global leadership: Both leaders reaffirmed their support for a reformed United Nations Security Council, with India as a permanent member. They also stressed the need for trilateral cooperation with African partners “including in areas such as agriculture, health, energy, women’s empowerment and sanitation”.

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