M A I N   N E W S

Indo-US Summit 
Modi, Obama set agenda for decisive action
Both sides agree on joint counter-terror efforts to nail LeT, JeM, Dawood * 3 smart cities on anvil * Boost for defence, trade ties
Raj Chengappa in Washington DC

After years of lassitude, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama moved decisively to set a new agenda by announcing a slew of outcomes that promised to rejuvenate the flagging relations between the two countries. Top among them was to begin “joint and concerted” efforts to dismantle safe havens for terrorists and criminal networks and their financial infrastructure naming the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Dawood Ibrahim, Haqqani and Al-Qaida for specific action.

In their first bilateral meeting since Modi took over as Prime Minister, the two leaders had an intense two-hour discussion at the White House with their top teams, apart from a one-on-one meeting of 20 minutes that ended with a joint statement listing a whole range of new initiatives in several key areas of trade and investment, energy, defence, skill development, urban infrastructure and rural sanitation.

On the contentious civil nuclear liability issue that was a boulder to further progress on the landmark India-US nuclear deal, the two leaders agreed to set up a joint India-US interagency group to speed up the purchase and installation of US-built reactors in India. Importantly, the US also announced it would work towards India becoming a member of two groups critical to nuclear-related issues, the Missile Technology Control Regime and the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

On defence, India and the US decided to extend the Defence Framework Agreement cooperation by another 10 years and took steps towards Modi’s plan for greater self-reliance by tasking the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative to identify unique and transformative technologies and products that the two countries could co-develop and co-produce. Apart from reaffirming its support for India to become a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, the US said it would work towards enhancing India’s representation on key decision making bodies of existing international financial institutions.

On trade, the two sides discussed India’s reasons to block the Trade Facilitation Agreement at the recent WTO meeting and the US agreed to address India’s concerns. At the meeting, Modi clarified: “India supports trade facilitation but it is my wish that a solution should take care of our food security concerns. I am sure that it is possible to do that early.”

On Modi’s dream of smart cities, it was decided that US firms would be lead partners in developing three of them: Ajmer, Vishakapatnam and Allahabad. The US also agreed to help the Prime Minister’s other key initiative of skill development through a partnership to bring global standards and certification system. The two countries also agreed to put together a platform for partnership both at the government level and private philanthropic groups to boost the Modi’s government plans for Clean India. At the end of the meeting, President Obama said: “I am looking forward to building on the relationship and making more progress.”

A leap forward

* Modi invites US companies to participate in defence manufacturing sector in India

* Delhi says it’s serious about removing roadblocks in the civil nuclear energy cooperation 

* Modi seeks easier access for Indian service companies to the US economy

* Modi says it’s important to address India’s concerns over food security at the World Trade Organisation 

* US to help India develop Allahabad, Ajmer and Visakhapatnam as smart cities 

* India to provide Americans tourist visas on arrival; will speed up global entry programme to ensure easy entry of Indians to the US.

Modi invites Obama to visit India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday invited US President Barack Obama to visit India at a convenient time, which has been accepted by the White House. "I look forward to receiving President Obama and his family in India at a convenient time," Modi said in a joint press statement . PTI





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