Obama, Modi to put upbeat face on US-India ties

2014-09-30 16:12
File: AFP

File: AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - In a display of intercontinental unity, President Barack Obama and India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi are joining together to put an optimistic face on the future of relations between India and the United States, amid lingering concerns that the close ties the two democracies once enjoyed have lost their lustre.

An Oval Office meeting on Tuesday with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden was to be the centrepiece of Modi's two-day visit to the White House, where the Indian leader was to be greeted with a formal arrival ceremony outside the West Wing.

The previous evening, Obama hosted his Indian counterpart for a private dinner — despite the fact that Modi, a devout Hindu, was fasting.

Typically, visiting heads of state spend just a portion of a day at the White House meeting with Obama and other US leaders. The rare second day of attention from Obama underscored the White House's desire to give a warm welcome to the man who was once barred from even entering the US Modi was also to attend a State Department lunch Tuesday with Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.

"Whether it's security and counterterrorism or strengthening the economy or a host of other regional issues, there is a broad framework where India and the US work closely together to advance our shared interests," said White House spokesperson Josh Earnest.

Serious abuses

Now the leader of the world's largest democracy, Modi was the top elected official in the Indian state of Gujarat more than a decade ago when religious riots there killed more than 1 000 Muslims. When Modi later requested a visa to visit the US, Washington said no.

Another potential wrinkle in Modi's visit: A human rights group is offering $10 000 to anyone who can serve Modi with a summons issued by a federal court in New York to respond to a lawsuit the group filed accusing him of serious abuses.

Modi has denied involvement in the violence, and as a head of state, he's immune from lawsuits in US courts. White House officials said they doubted the issue would cloud the visit.

During their talks, Obama and Modi will focus on economic growth and cooperation on security, clean energy, climate change and other issues, the White House said.

They will also address regional concerns, including Afghanistan, where the US is winding down its 13-year military involvement, plus US-led efforts to combat Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq.

While military ties and defense trade between the two countries have grown, the economic relationship has been rockier, with Washington frustrated by India's failure to open its economy to more foreign investment and address intellectual property complaints.

Civil nuclear agreement

 Challenges with an existing civil nuclear agreement and the arrest and strip search last year of an Indian diplomat in New York have further frayed relations.

Ahead of Modi's visit to Washington, he was given a rock star reception at New York's Madison Square Garden, where thousands of Indian-Americans flocked for a rare chance to see the new leader.

The dazzling Bollywood-style dancers and dozens of US lawmakers that took part highlighted the popular support Modi is enjoying on his first official visit to the US since being elected in May.

A major aspect of this week's visit is the chance for Obama and Modi to begin building rapport, administration officials said. Obama was among the first Western leaders to telephone Modi with congratulations after his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party swept into power after May's landslide vote.

The visit also is a victory lap of sorts for Modi, a former tea seller.

"He's gone in just a matter of a few months from persona non grata to person of honour to be received warmly in the Oval Office," said Milan Vaishnav, who studies South Asia at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank.

Read more on:    narendra modi  |  barack obama  |  india  |  us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.