US Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the PM's residence in New Delhi. (AFP Photo)
US secretary of state John Kerry told Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday that failing to sign a pact to facilitate global trade at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) sent a confusing signal and nudged India to resolve the deadlock at the earliest.
The WTO pact to ease worldwide customs rules, or the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), collapsed late on Thursday over India's demands for concessions on agricultural stockpiling, sparking criticism from some member nations who had expected the deal to be rubber-stamped this week.
“The failure of implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement sends a confusing signal and undermines that very message that India is seeking to send,” a state department official said after Kerry’s meeting with Modi.
Read: India says it is committed to trade facilitation agreement, WTO talks fail
Modi, who had a nearly one-hour meeting with Kerry, explained New Delhi’s position by pointing out the need for developed countries to understand the challenges of poverty in developing countries and their governments' responsibilities in addressing them.
“The prime minister has conveyed that the developed nations should understand the challenges the developing countries face. That explains India’s position,” said the external affairs ministry spokesperson, when asked about the response to Kerry's statement.
India insisted that a permanent agreement on its subsidised food stockpiling to ensure food security for the masses must be in place at the same time as the trade facilitation deal much ahead of the 2017 deadline set in Bali last year.
Kerry’s visit is aimed at revitalising ties between the two countries and lay the ground for Modi’s September visit to the US where he will meet US president Barack Obama.
Kerry and secretary of commerce Penny Pritzker told the government that President Obama was looking forward to the meeting with Modi to set an "ambitious new agenda" to chart a new course in bilateral ties.
Read: Kerry offers to partner in Modi’s vision, Sushma says US spying on India 'unacceptable'
Conveying the message that Obama attaches great priority to relations with India, both for bilateral cooperation and global partnership, they said he looks forward to a "productive and fruitful" summit in September to "set an ambitious new agenda to chart a new course in the relationship", the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
According to the statement, Modi said there was broad convergence of views and interests between the two countries and asked both sides to prepare to “take the relationship to an entirely new level” at the summit.
Ties between the world`s two largest democracies soured last year after an Indian diplomat was arrested in New York on charges of mistreating her domestic help, provoking outrage in New Delhi.