November 24th, 2009
02:22 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama: India-U.S. relations to be a 'defining partnership' for the 21st century

 Obama: India-U.S. relations to be a 'defining partnership' for the 21st  century.
Obama: India-U.S. relations to be a 'defining partnership' for the 21st century.

Washington (CNN) – America's president and India's prime minister agreed Tuesday to team up and tackle a checklist of economic, research, nuclear, security, and environmental challenges.

In what is the first state visit of his presidency, President Barack Obama welcomed India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the White House Tuesday morning.

Obama and Singh had what they called a productive sit-down meeting and then briefed reporters with comments that reiterated what both nations believe will be a strong relationship in the years to come.

Calling India "the world's largest multiethnic democracy " with a fast growing economy, Obama said, "I believe that the relationship between the United States and India will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century" and will reflect the "strategic dialogue" between the countries.


"We're the world's two largest democracies. We have a range of shared values and ideals. We're both entrepreneurial societies. We're both multi-ethnic societies. We are societies that believe in human rights and core freedoms that are enshrined in our founding documents," said Obama, who also stressed the dynamic role of the growing Indian-American community.

Singh's visit comes amid India's always tense relationship with nuclear rival Pakistan, regional concerns over the fighting in Afghanistan, and the burgeoning trade relationship between the United States and India - a country of 1.2 billion people with a growing and influential diaspora in America. It also comes about a year after the deadly terror attack on the Indian city of Mumbai.

Obama said he and Singh "agreed to strengthen the economic recovery and expand trade and investment" in order to create jobs from both nations.

"Indian investment in America is creating and sustaining jobs across the United States, and the United States is India's largest trading and investment partner," said Obama.

As for the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement, Obama said he has "reaffirmed to the prime minister my administration's commitment to fully implement" the deal, which Singh signed with former President George W. Bush.

Both countries are attempting to put the finishing touches on implementing the deal, which would provide for the development of Indian nuclear power for peaceful uses.

Obama also supported Singh's backing for nuclear nonproliferation
efforts.

"I look forward to India's participation in our nuclear summit ... next year, as well as India's participation as a full partner in our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons."

Ahead of the upcoming Copenhagen climate change framework meeting, Obama said he and Singh settled on a "comprehensive" agreement that would "cover all the issues under negotiation," building on the "progress" that Obama recently made on a trip to Beijing.

Obama said he and Singh have agreed to pursue new efforts, such as a "clean energy initiative," "more affordable energy," "a green partnership to reduce poverty," and an effort "to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels."

"We resolved to take significant national mitigation actions that will strengthen the world's ability to combat climate change. We agreed to stand by these commitments with full transparency, through appropriate processes, as to their implementation," he said.

As for security, he and Singh decided to work closer on information-sharing to prevent the kind of militant attack that happened in Mumbai last year, and they discussed Obama's Afghan policy review, which is expected to lead to an announcement on troop levels next week.

Obama said the pair agreed to widen education exchanges in science and technology, and ties between universities and colleges. He said both countries want researchers to work together to reduce hunger and fight disease.

Singh touched on the same topics as Obama, and invited Obama and his family to visit India, an invitation Obama accepted.

Noting that the global economic crisis illustrates "the fact that our prosperity is interlinked," Singh reiterated what Obama said about tightening their relationship on trade and investment.

"We admire the leadership that President Obama has provided to stimulate and guide the G-20 process that is now fully in place," he said.

He also endorsed collaboration in education, health and agriculture.

"We will deepen our ongoing cooperation in frontier areas of science and technology, nuclear power and space," Singh said, also noting that the leaders agreed on the "early" and the "full implementation of our civil nuclear cooperation agreement."

As for climate change, he said he and Obama "have agreed on the need for a substantive and comprehensive outcome which would cover mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology."

Singh also brought up another issue: that the U.S.-India "strategic partnership should facilitate transfer of high technologies to India."

"The lifting of U.S. export controls on high-technology exports to India will open vast opportunities for joint research and development efforts," he said. "It will enable U.S. industry to benefit from the rapid economic and technological transformation that is now under way in our country.

On the subject of Afghanistan, Singh pointed out the importance of the world community helping the war-wracked country emerge "as a modern state."

"The forces of terrorism in our region pose a grave threat to the entire civilized world and have to be defeated. President Obama and I have decided to strengthen our cooperation in the area of counterterrorist."

In the evening, Singh and his wife will attend the state dinner in a tent on the South Lawn, with Grammy- and Oscar-award-winning singer and actress Jennifer Hudson scheduled to entertain the black-tie crowd.

Singh's visit - his second to Washington after meeting with then- President George W. Bush - will last five days. He arrived in the United States Sunday.

On Monday, he attended a luncheon hosted by the U.S. India Business Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and he addressed the Council on Foreign Relations.

At the business luncheon, Singh underscored economic relationships as the "bedrock" of other forms of ties - social, cultural and political. At the Council of Foreign Relations, the prime minister spoke about moving beyond bilateral engagements to having a "strategic partnership (with the United States) of global dimensions."

On Wednesday, Singh will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates and will later attend a reception for the Indian community hosted by Indian Ambassador to the United States Meera Shankar.

Singh will leave Washington on Thursday and fly to Port of Spain, Trinidad, to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit.

The 77-year-old Singh is a Cambridge- and Oxford-educated economist who was governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 1982-1985 and the nation's finance minister from 1991-1996.

A member of the Congress Party, he is serving a second five-year term as prime minister. He was first sworn in in May 2004 and again in May of this year. He and his wife of 51 years, Gursharan Kaur, have three daughters.

–CNN's Harmeet Shah Singh in New Delhi contributed to this report


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soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Right wingnuts are the darlings of dementia

    But can we really have an ally without declaring war on them first?

    November 24, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. ib

    Did Obama bow and say he's sorry to the PM like he has done to every other world leader??? Pathetic

    November 24, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  3. SLM

    Blah, Blah, blah more empty words from the empty suit. Did he ask India to send some of our jobs back? Obama needs to get off his blank check spending spree and quit looking at more ventures that cost us money we DON'T have.

    November 24, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. vic nashville , Tn

    These recommendations came from Bush appointees (total 16, all are from previous administration ) did some thing smell bad like death penalty yes

    November 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. Some republican guy

    Goldangit!! The narcisstic obamabot sent all of our jobs to India where all those muslims live because he's a muslim too. Pretty soon the Oprah watching union thugs are going to force us all to eat samosas and non-bread instead of real American food like pizza and hot dogs!!!!!! I don't want my grandbabies eating all that spicy food. It gives them bad indigestion. You libtarded socialists can eat that stuff. Don't get any tikka marsala on your Chay Guevarro t-shirts!!!!! Their going to take away our Hummers and make us all ride bicycles and scooters and elephants like the socialist muslims in India!!!! Have a nice day!

    November 24, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Rick

    India....The new Mexico

    November 24, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. Jane/Seattle

    Well these astute U.S. politicians and their lackeys everywhere know that India is about to/or has surpassed China with regard to the looming staggering world count of 7 Billion living humans! What with the downsizing of America, Capitalists have to get their cheap labor somehow! Never content they must make everyone beholden to them for the Bribery and Loans from the financial arm of Big Bidness-The World Bank and The International Monetary Fund (Front orgs for Big D.C.)! SEE THIS IMPORTANT BOOK: Thom Hartmann's, "Threshold". Peace :o

    November 24, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. Pee Wee

    Calling India "the world's largest multiethnic democracy " ...

    Swing, and a miss. Sorry Barack, take a look at our diversity.

    November 24, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. Jon Krieger

    Of course our partyboy president wants us to get chummy with india,that's probably where he'll export our jobs next year!And what about that fancy dinner?Are any relatives of u.s.soldiers who've died while waiting around for this jerk to make a decision,invited?Probably not.Are any of the ACORN criminals invited?Probably so!

    November 24, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Some republican guy

    Crikey!!!! The narcisstic obamabot sent all of our jobs to India where all those muslims live because he's a muslim too. Pretty soon the Oprah watching union thugs and illeagle aliens from ACORN are going to force us all to eat samosas and non-bread instead of real American food like pizza and hot dogs!!!!!! I don't want my grandbabies eating all that spicy food. It gives them bad indigestion. You socialist libtards can eat that stuff. Be sure to wear a bib so you don't get any chicken vindeloo on your Chay Guevarro t-shirts!!!!! Their going to take away our Hummers and make us all ride bicycles and scooters and elephants like the socialist muslims in India!!!! Have a nice day!

    November 24, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. Proud Member..Party of No

    Barry is so overwhelmed and lost that he can't even fake that he knows what's going on anymore. He just stumbles around with a confused look on his face these days.

    November 24, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |