The US “strongly supports” India’s NSG membership bid, President Barack Obama on Thursday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi here as they discussed the immediate priorities in the strategic partnership, including deepening the civil nuclear cooperation and combating climate change.
“Had a great discussion with President of the US (POTUS) on India-USA relations,” Modi tweeted after his meeting with Obama on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit here, their eighth in the last two years.
A White House official, giving details of the meeting, said, “Reaffirming the strong bonds of friendship between the United States and India, the President underscored that the United States strongly supports India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).”
The US has been playing a lead role in supporting India’s bid in the 48-member elite group. China had scuttled New Delhi’s bid at the plenary session of NSG in June.
The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of the deepening partnership between the US and India and the value of their shared engagement in the region, including through the East Asia Summit, the official said.
“President Obama praised Prime Minister Modi’s initiatives to reform the Indian economy. In particular, the US President expressed confidence that the passage of GST will unleash significant economic activity,” sources said.
During the meeting, Obama also praised Modi’s vision of entrepreneurship and innovation, which he said would be “very important for a country like India”.
Obama said that he had always been a friend of India and would continue to be a “strong partner of India and help in any way I can,” according to sources.
Both leaders reviewed the immediate priorities in the strategic partnership. They discussed climate change issues and energy cooperation. The two leaders also reviewed progress on Indo-US collaboration in nuclear energy, solar energy and innovation, the sources said.
“President Obama thanked Prime Minister Modi for his cooperation on a broad range of global and bilateral issues and commended Prime Minister Modi’s leadership in addressing the urgent threats posed by climate change,” the White House official said.
“The leaders noted our joint commitment, fulfilled by the United States in advance of the G20 Leaders’ Summit, to join the Paris Agreement this year as well as our resolve to adopt an ambitious HFC amendment to the Montreal Protocol this year,” the official added.
The meeting was “very warm and friendly”, sources said.
Modi praised President Obama for his contribution to the relationship and the growing trust between the two countries.
He also invited the US President to visit India after demitting office to which Obama said he would welcome any opportunity to visit India.
On a lighter note, Obama said he and his wife Michelle were yet to see the Taj Mahal. Last year, Obama had cancelled a planned trip to the Taj Mahal, cutting short his visit to India to travel to Saudi Arabia following King Abdullah’s death.
This could be the last meeting between Modi and Obama as leaders of the two countries with Obama’s second term as US President coming to an end in January next year.
They met for the first time at the White House in September 2014 when Modi travelled to Washington DC at the invitation of Obama.
Modi had also exchanged views with Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China’s Hangzhou on Sunday, with the US President praising the “bold policy” move on GST reform in a “difficult” global economic scenario.