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Obama meets PM, plans to visit India in 2010

Barack Obama says that the US and India are natural allies.

News18test sharma |

Updated:November 25, 2009, 2:18 AM IST
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Obama meets PM, plans to visit India in 2010
Barack Obama says that the US and India are natural allies.

Washington: US President Barack Obama declared on Tuesday that US ties with India will be "one of the defining relationships" of the 21st century as he welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the first state visit of the Obama administration.

At the conclusion of about two hours of talks, Obama said he and Singh had agreed to "work even closer" on sharing information between law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Singh promised increased cooperation with Washington to counter terror.

Obama was quizzed about the tense relationship between India and Pakistan and said it was not the role of the United States to intervene and solve such problems.

However, he said that America should do what it can to ensure that Pakistan and India both feel secure and able to focus on developing their countries for their own people.

On security, Obama said the United States and India are natural allies.

"We both recognise that our core goal is to achieve peace and security for all peoples in the region, not just one country or the other," the US President said.

The two leaders glossed over a dispute about commitments to reduce greenhouse gases in advance of the next month's climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, but Obama said they had moved a "step closer" to a successful outcome.

Noting that the United States is India's largest trading partner, Obama said broadening trade ties would help create much-needed jobs in both countries as governments continue trying to stimulate recession-hit economies.

In an elaborate welcoming ceremony earlier on Tuesday, Obama showered praise on India and Singh, declaring it was only fitting the Indian leader should be the first state visitor of his administration.

Obama said the United States and India share the "bold experiments" of becoming democracies after breaking from rule by a colonial power, and in modern times both have known the pain of international terrorism.

"Our nations are two global leaders, driven not to dominate other nations but to build a future of security and prosperity for all nations," Obama said.

Chilly, damp weather led the White House to move the ceremony indoors, where Singh and Obama stood before photographers and television cameras in the East Room as the Marine Corps band played the national anthems of their countries.

Singh said India and the United States are separated by distance but bound by common national values of "democracy, pluralism, rule of law and respect for fundamental human freedoms".

India was a bit upset with Obama as he neglected the country during his recent trip to Asia and seemed to endorse a stronger role for China in India's sensitive dealings with Pakistan.

However, Obama's words sought to re-establish the strong feelings of good will the countries enjoyed during George W Bush's presidency. Bush is credited with transforming the relationship after decades of Cold War-era distrust.

The symbol of those new ties is a civilian nuclear cooperation accord signed into law last year after years of close communication and tough negotiation.

Obama voiced his commitment to the accord during the meeting.

The two countriess were expected to sign a memorandum intended to improve cooperation on energy security, clean energy and climate change, but there were no immediate details.

Developing and industrialised countries have bickered as they prepare to negotiate a new global climate change treaty in Copenhagen, meant to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on carbon dioxide emissions.

Developing countries argue that rich countries produced most of the heat-trapping greenhouse gases on their march to development and should therefore bear the costs of fixing the problem.

Wealthy nations say all countries — including large polluters India and China — have to agree to broad cuts in emissions.

India is willing to work on any climate solution that does not hurt developing countries' efforts to lift their populations out of poverty, Singh said before meeting Obama.

Meanwhile, Obama said he was "happy" to accept Singh's invitation to visit India next year, 2010.

"India today is a rising and responsible global power in Asia. Indian leadership is expanding security across the region," Obama told reporters in his joint press conference with Singh at the White House.

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