Republicans weigh in on Modi-Obama talks

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Jan 27, 2015 21:38 IST

Left out of the Modi-Obama summit, the optics, the deals and the hype, Republicans welcomed the talks Monday reminding everyone of the bipartisan support for ties with India.

Republicans took control of US congress — both chambers, the House and the Senate — in the last election and Indian officials and experts noted their efforts to weigh in on the talks.

While President Obama’s delegation included prominent lawmakers — Nancy Pelosi, Mark Warner, Joe Crowley and Ami Bera — there was no Republican on it.

It could not be immediately ascertained if they were not invited or they chose to not join the team given the testy relations between their party and the president.

But they didn’t want to be left out altogether.

“I am encouraged by the news over the weekend that the United States and India have taken further steps to deepen our strategic partnership, including clearing the way to achieve the benefits of the 2006 civil nuclear agreement and expanding our defense cooperation,” said Senator John McCain, chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, in a statement.

He added that while he will be reviewing details of those agreements, he was “pleased that progress is being made toward achieving the full potential of the U.S.-India relationship”.

McCain was the first senior US leader to call on and meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his election last May. Secretary of state John Kerry and others followed.

Ed Royce, who heads the House committee on foreign affairs and is a former co-chair of the Indian caucus, attended the Republic Day celebrations at the Indian Embassy on Monday.

It was rare appearance for a US lawmaker/leader, said long-time Indian watchers, adding they couldn’t recall an earlier appearance by any leader of either party.

Some of them do attend, and have, the Republic Day receptions usually hosted by the Indian ambassador, which are usually on a later day, but not the morning event.

Royce placed flowers at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, which is just outside the embassy and serves as the centerpiece of R-Day and Independence Day events.

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