Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on his way back home after what he himself described as a “hugely successful journey” visit to the US.
From the rock star at Madison Square Garden to President Barack Obama giving him a warm reception at the White House, Prime Minister Modi’s visit was accorded special significance. And to his credit, Modi won over his hosts in style.
“Thank You America,” Modi said as he concluded his last official engagement at an event organised by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) on Tuesday.
In a rare gesture, President Obama joined Modi to pay homage at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. Both the leaders took a round of the memorial and Obama was seen explaining significance of the site to Modi.
The visit was significant given the success achieved by both sides in bringing the strategic partnership between India and the US back on track.
In a joint vision statement and a joint op-ed in the Washington Post, Modi and Obama vowed to “chalein saath saath – together we go forward” with a new agenda to realise the full potential of a renewed US-India partnership for the 21st century.
Both sides agreed to make “joint and concerted efforts” to dismantle safe havens for terror and criminal networks like LeT, JeM, D-company, al Qaeda and Haqqani network. The two countries will take steps to disrupt financial and tactical support to these terror outfits.
A US-India joint statement issued after Tuesday’s summit at the White House that lasted nearly two hours listed what some critics called a ‘laundry list’ of things they can do together in fields ranging from health and education to space exploration. But the real significance of the trip lay in the fact that it put the India-US partnership back on the rails. And more importantly, Modi secured a commitment from Obama to make joint and concerted efforts to dismantle terrorist safe havens.
India is not going to join “any coalition” in fight against terrorism in West Asia. A trilateral partnership agreed on Afghanistan, would be developmental in nature and not military cooperation.
The statement specifically mentioned four Pakistan-based groups – Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the D-Company, and the Haqqanis besides al Qaeda – and also reiterated their call for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack to justice.
No breakthrough on the civil nuclear deal, stalled over India’s tough liability laws. Modi said, “We are serious about resolution of issues on both sides to enable civilian nuclear energy cooperation to take off. It is important for India’s energy security.” An inter-agency contact group will be set up to address the issues of liability, administrative and technical issues. From the Indian side, agencies like DAE, MEA and Finance Ministry will be involved.
Obama said India meets the standards of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and is “now ready” for the membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a 48-member body which controls global nuclear trade.
Agreement on extending their defence agreement for another 10 years which is expected to give a big boost to cooperation in this key area between the two countries. Modi invited US companies to participate in defence manufacturing sector in India, which has recently raised the FDI cap from 26 to 49 per cent.
Commitment to facilitate the actions necessary to increase bilateral trade five-fold from the current $100 billion. The proposed steps include establishing an Indo-US Investment Initiative an Infrastructure Collaboration Platform. India will welcome two trade missions in 2015 focused on meeting India’s infrastructure needs with US technology and services.
Obama and Modi had a candid discussion about WTO issues.
“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,” Modi said. “I am looking forward to building up on relationship and make more progress,” he added.
US reaffirmed support for India’s membership of the expanded UN Security Council and backed it for “voice and vote” in international financial institutions like IMF and World Bank.
The US will be the lead partner in developing Allahabad, Ajmer and Vishakapatnam as ‘Smart Cities’.
The countries will also cooperate in the Mars Mission.
The two sides agreed to set up Water and Sanitation Alliance (WASH).