PM meets Obama…eighth meeting in last two years

RSTV Bureau
Vientiane: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting at 28th and 29th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos, September 8, 2016. Photo - PTI

Vientiane: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting at 28th and 29th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos, September 8, 2016.
Photo – PTI

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting in Laos on Thursday on the sidelines of ASEAN Summit. This meeting comes after India and America entered into a crucial defense deal in August during John Kery’s visit to India.

During the meeting, US President Barack Obama told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that it “strongly supports” India’s NSG membership bid. The two leaders also took up the immediate priorities in the strategic partnership, including deepening the civil nuclear cooperation and combating climate change.

“Had a great discussion with President of the US (POTUS) on India-USA relations,” PM Modi tweeted.

A White House official, giving details of the meeting, said, “reaffirming the strong bonds of friendship between the United States and India, the President underscored that the United States strongly supports India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).”

This was the eighth meeting between Modi and Obama in two years. They met for the first time at the White House in September 2014 when Modi travelled to Washington DC at the invitation of Obama.

Prime Minister Modi exchanged views with Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China’s Hangzhou on Sunday, with the US president praising the “bold policy” move on GST reform in a “difficult” global economic scenario.

The US has been playing a lead role in supporting India’s bid in the 48-member elite group. China had scuttled New Delhi’s bid at the Plenary Session of NSG in June.

Vientiane: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting at 28th and 29th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos, September 8, 2016. Photo - PTI

Vientiane: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting at 28th and 29th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos, September 8, 2016.
Photo – PTI

During the meeting, Obama also praised Modi’s vision of entrepreneurship and innovation, which he said would be “very important for a country like India” adding he had always been a friend of India and would continue to be a “strong partner of India”.

Both leaders also reviewed the immediate priorities in the strategic partnership. They discussed climate change issues and energy cooperation. The two leaders also reviewed progress on Indo-US collaboration in nuclear energy, solar energy and innovation.

“President Obama thanked Prime Minister Modi for his cooperation on a broad range of global and bilateral issues and commended Prime Minister Modi’s leadership in addressing the urgent threats posed by climate change,” the White House official said.

This could be the last meeting between Modi and Obama as leaders of the two countries with Obama’s second term as US President coming to an end in January next year.

Exchanging pleasantries, Obama said on a lighter note that he and his wife Michelle were yet to see the Taj Mahal. Last year, Obama had cancelled a planned trip to the Taj Mahal, cutting short his visit to India to travel to Saudi Arabia following King Abdullah’s death.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a two-day visit to Laotian capital to attend the ASEAN-India and the East Asia Summits to strengthen India’s trade and security ties with the strategic Southeast Asian region. This is the third time that Modi is attending these two Summits.

(With inputs from the PTI)