Obama, India's Modi Pledge to Expand Cooperation
by VOA News September 30, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama and India's new prime minister, Narendra Modi, are pledging to work together to expand cooperation in trade, investment, technology and security.
The two leaders are holding bilateral talks Tuesday at the White House, after eating dinner together there Monday.
In a Washington Post op-ed article published before the meeting, the leaders said 'it is time to set a new agenda' to 'broaden and deepen' the U.S.-India relationship.
They vowed to discuss ways to boost manufacturing and expand renewable energy, as well as improve basic services in India, such as sanitation and hygiene.
Economic growth was expected to be a focus of the discussions, with Washington concerned about India's failure to open its economy to more foreign investment.
'While India benefits from the growth generated by U.S. investment and technical partnerships,' the two leaders wrote in the op-ed, 'the United States benefits from a stronger, more prosperous India.'
They also highlighted collaboration in counterterrorism and law enforcement, as well as health research and work to empower women, build capacity and improve food security in Africa and Afghanistan, where the U.S. is winding down its combat role.
Modi, who won election in May, is in the U.S. for his first visit. The trip represents a marked turn from nearly a decade ago, when the U.S. rejected his visa request because of his alleged complicity in sectarian violence that left more than 1,000 Muslims dead in Gujarat state.
After addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, the new Indian leader took on rock star status in New York Sunday as more than 18,000 Indian Americans gathered to hear him speak at Madison Square Garden.
Modi assured the Indian expatriates that his government 'will not do anything' to let them down and spoke of 'an atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm' in India.
But not everyone in New York was enthusiastic. Several hundred anti-Modi protesters gathered across the street from the venue, chanting from behind police barricades, 'Modi, Modi, you cannot hide, you committed genocide!'
The Hindu nationalist prime minister was the top elected official in Gujarat when religious rioting broke out in 2002, but the Indian Supreme Court has said there was no case to be brought against him.
The controversy of his past aside, as prime minister, Modi and U.S. President Obama have identified 'the central premise' of their two nations' partnership as 'forward together.' In their op-ed, they say this partnership alone 'can help shape international security and peace for years to come.'
Highlighting joint military exercises as well as cooperation in space, business and science, they said they 'aspire to a better future for all' in the world.
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