India-US summit will chart course for more trade, investment

Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh’s meeting will provide an opportunity to chart a course toward enhanced trade, investment and development cooperation.

US President Barack Obama’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington on next Friday – the third between the two leaders in four years – will provide them an opportunity to chart a course toward enhanced trade, investment and development cooperation, according to the White House.

The summit meeting “will highlight India’s role in regional security and stability,” White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters accompanying Obama on a visit to Kansas City, Missouri on Friday. It would also “provide an opportunity for the two leaders to chart a course toward enhanced trade, investment, and development cooperation between the United States and India,” he said.

Earnest recalled that Friday’s “bilateral meeting” at the White House “follows the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington in 2009 and the President’s memorable visit to India in 2010” but gave no details of their agenda. President Obama who has described India-US relationship as one of the “defining partnerships of the 21ST century” had chosen to invite Manmohan Singh for his presidency’s first state dinner in Nov 2009.

Vice President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State John Kerry had visited India recently to set the stage for Manmohan Singh’s working visit which is expected to focus on how to operationalise the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal, enhanced defence cooperation and Afghanistan.

Signed in 2008, the nuclear deal which has been variously described in India as a “pillar of our strategic partnership,” and a symbol of our transformed relationship” has been stalled over India’s tough 2010 nuclear liability law which makes suppliers too liable in the event of an accident.

The two sides will also explore ways of expanding defence ties “beyond a buyer-seller relationship to a joint partnership in design, development and production of defence material”.

As US Deputy Defence Secretary Ashton Carter who was in India this week in preparation of Manmohan Singh’s visit put it: “They (India) don’t want to just buy our stuff.”

“They want to build our stuff with us and they want to develop new things with us, and they want to do research with us.”

Meanwhile, a key Obama aide has ruled out a meeting between Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.

Obama had a “good set of discussions” on the phone with Sharif when the US president called him after his electoral victory, White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes said on Friday.

“We do expect that we’d like to have a formal meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan in the near future. So it’s a matter of making sure that we can find an appropriate time for both leaders to come together,” he said.

The State Department which has been “encouraging” India and Pakistan to hold a dialogue declined comment on a likely meeting between Manmohan Singh and Sharif over the next weekend.


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