Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Barack Obama at the White House, the second such meeting between the two leaders since Modi took over as India’s top executive in 2014. Addressing a joint press conference after the meeting, Modi thanked Obama for his support to India in its bid for membership of the MTCR missile control regime and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
This was the seventh meeting between the two leaders since Modi took over as Prime Minister in 2014. Though Obama has just months left in office, the two leaders are set for another meeting, said PM Modi, which would happen at the G20 summit.
“Want to thank my close friend President Obama. We discussed a range of issues. I also thank the US Congress for inviting me,” said Modi at the joint press conference.
“We are working shoulder to shoulder. We are proud. We will continue working together… “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 added.
Modi’s visit to the US is significant for India’s growing role in global affairs. Not only will he look to consolidate the progress in the India-US relationship over the past decade, but also lay the groundwork for relations with the incoming regime.
Obama also dwelt on the strong ties that are developing between India and the US on multiple fronts. “We discussed progress made on nuclear civil cooperation… We discussed regional security issues, we wish to work together on cyber security,” Obama said.
The meeting between Modi and Obama lasted an hour and took place in the Oval Office, the official seat of the US President. This will be followed by a working lunch in the Cabinet Room. US Vice President Joe Biden was part of the Oval office meeting and is also set to take part in the lunch meeting.
Modi’s US trip and the meeting with Obama come at a time when India deals with multiple priorities on the global stage. India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was confirmed hours before the Modi-Obama meeting. This will give India access to high-end missile technology from across the globe and will allow India to purchase top-of-the-line missile systems.
The MTCR will also pave the way for India to sell BrahMos missiles, which it developed jointly with Russia.
Another key concern for India will be its bid to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which would give India access to the global market for civilian nuclear technology. India’s entry to the informal group seems set to be blocked by China, which has been calling for similar access to Pakistan despite its disastrous proliferation record.
For its part, the US is likely to seek greater security and diplomatic cooperation with India in the Asia-Pacific front, where it is squaring off against a rising China. The US has been attempting to raise its presence and influence in the region as part of its ‘Pivot to Asia’ reorientation of its foreign policy focus. The US presence in the region has led to rising tensions between Washington DC and Beijing over territorial claims in the South China Sea.