Taj beckons: Modi invites ‘good friend’ Obama to visit India, NSG a work in progress


obama-modi-laosVIENTIANE (LAOS): It was the last meeting between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama, but it looks like they will be seeing more of each other even after the American leader demits office.

“It was a very warm and friendly meeting on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit. Both leaders reviewed the immediate priorities in the strategic partnership,” said sources after their meeting in Vientiane on September 8.
“PM also invited President Obama to visit India after he demits office,” said sources.

“President Obama said that he would welcome any opportunity to visit India. As an aside, he added that he and Michelle were yet to see the Taj Mahal!”
In their farewell meeting, Mr Modi lauded President Obama for his contribution to the relationship and the growing trust between the two countries. President Obama, on his part, was all praise for PM Modi’s initiatives to reform the Indian economy and underlined that the passage of GST “will unleash significant economic activity.” He also praised PM’s vision of entrepreneurship and innovation, which would be “very important for a country like India.”

The two leaders, who have developed a unique personal chemistry and often call each other by their first names, discussed key issues that have come to frame what President Obama has called “the defining partnership of the 21st century,” including climate change, nuclear energy, solar energy and innovation.

NSG? Obama says will help in any way I can
It’s not clear what was discussed about the US’ plan to fast-track India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, for which the US support will always be crucial. There was, however, a cryptic hint that President Obama will do all he can and help in any way he can. “President Obama said that he has always been a friend of India and will continue to be a “strong partner of India and help in any way I can,”’ said sources.
Reading between the lines, those in the know can expect that Mr Obama will do his best to advance India’s NSG membership, but going by current geopolitical complications and conflicted India-China relationship, New Delhi may have to wait a while before it enters the nuclear club as a member.
Building upon the path-breaking nuclear deal signed during the Bush administration, the India-US relations have grown exponentially during the two terms of the Obama presidency, with the US’ elevating India as a major defence partner during Mr Modi’s visit to Washington in June this year.