Hours after the US helped open the doors for India into the elite Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that his bond with US President Barack Obama is immensely strong and that US and India will “continue working together”.
The Prime Minister was addressing media persons at the Oval Office in the White House in the presence of US Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama.
The entry into the MTCR means that US can sell some of its most lethal drones to India.
MTCR rules dictate that no member country can sell any ballistic missile or unmanned vehicle with a range of more than 300 kms and over 500 kg payload to any other country.
India’s entry into the MTCR will not, therefore, have any effect on New Delhi’s plans of selling the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile to Vietnam because the missile is within the limits laid down by the MTCR. Russia, too, is a member of the MTCR.
But MTCR has not been the only victory for Modi during his US trip.
American electric company Westinghouse has agreed to set up six nuclear power plant reactors in India with Nuclear Power Corporation of India. They have agreed upon concluding the contractual arrangements by June 2017.
The nuclear deal gives a big boost to the Centre’s ambitious clean energy plans and is a shot in the arm for the mission of electrifying every Indian village and town.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said that India and US have now finalized the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), which allows US and Indian militaries to avail of logistical facilities in each other’s bases.
Both Modi and Obama have promised to ratify the Paris climate accord this year.
The two countries have agreed on the “creation of a $20-million US-India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF) initiative, equally supported by the United States and India”.
The purpose of the USICEF is to provide clean and renewable energy to 1 million households by 2020. There will be an increase in renewable energy investment in India.
As India continues steadfastly on its solar energy mission and the US marches on with a similar mission of its own, the two countries agreed on setting up of a $40-million US-India Catalytic Solar Finance Program which will help mobilize up to $1 billion of projects.
The US also gave a boost to India’s bid for membership into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), for which Modi thanked the US President while addressing him as “my friend Obama”.
In their joint statement, President Obama welcomed India’s application to join the NSG and urged the member countries to support India’s bid in the plenary to be held this month in South Korea.
The two leaders spoke on a number of topics, including cybersecurity, climate change, and economic cooperation.
“A key priority for both of us is how to promote economic prosperity and opportunity, and poverty alleviation for our people,” Obama said. “We continue to discuss a wide range of areas where we can cooperate more effectively in order to promote jobs, promote investment, promote trade, and promote greater opportunities for our people, particularly young people, in both of our countries.”
But both countries have on their minds a growing China. Beijing’s increasing influence in the Asia-Pacific region is what is giving sleepless nights to Washington.
China’s belligerent attitude towards its neighbours especially those who share a coastline of the South China Sea has not gone down well with the international community.
Modi and Obama’s bonhomie in the US is a sign of stronger relations between New Delhi and Washington in the backdrop of a dragon that is aligning itself with India’s enemies in South Asia and trying to break away those who are Delhi’s friends.
In the US, Modi reminded America that India is a country with 800 million below the age of 35.
“The United States is well aware of the talent that India has,” he said. “We and the United States can work together to bring forward this talent and use it for the benefit of mankind…for the benefit of innovations and use it to achieve new progress.”
That was a message aimed at business establishments, who hold the key of the economic car – the most important vehicle in any bilateral relationship.