US pleased with 'tangible progress' on key issues with India

The US Monday said it is "very pleased" with the "tangible progress" on key issues like the civil nuclear deal, defence agreements and clean energy cooperation reached with India during President Barack Obama's visit here.

New Delhi: The US Monday said it is "very pleased" with the "tangible progress" on key issues like the civil nuclear deal, defence agreements and clean energy cooperation reached with India during President Barack Obama's visit here.

"We leave here tomorrow very pleased with both the tangible progress on issues like the civilian nuclear agreement, the defence agreements, the clean energy cooperation, but also I think feeling as if space is open for a much broader US-Indian collaboration on regional and global issues and on trade and commercial relations," US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told American reporters here travelling with Obama.

Noting that Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have spent more time together than was initially planned, Rhodes said the close personal relationship between the two leaders is an important asset for India-US relations.

"Having that close, personal relationship, that proves to be an important asset," Rhodes said.

"Personal chemistry between the two leaders is "critically important," he said.

Obama is the first US president to visit India twice while in office and is also the first American leader to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.

"The US-India relationship is something that people have looked at for many years and thought this is a relationship that should go to a different level; that we have a lot of overlapping interests in counter-terrorism and economic growth in the region," he said.

"We have a shared sense of values as democracies. And yet, it was hard to get out of the old habits of mistrust, some of which are embedded in our own respective systems. It was hard, frankly, with all the other priorities that each country has in the world, to put in the time and energy into improving the relationship," he noted.

"I think what's happened here is Prime Minister Modi came to office and made a very deliberate decision to say the American relationship is a priority for me. Then when the two leaders were able to spend time together in Washington and have very extensive discussions, I think they found that they had a meeting of minds about where they were trying to go here.

"That a lot of the things that they're trying to do in their foreign policies and within their own countries overlaps. So that opens up a space for cooperation," Rhodes said.

"What you get out of the personal relationship is, frankly, leaders say we can't kind of accept the status quo anymore, that we have to get things done together. They send that signal down into their systems, and that allows you to I think make the type of progress we did on the civil nuclear side, but also it creates a new conversation and a new space for trying to envision what the US and India can do together," he said.

"When you talk about a much broader defence and security relationship in the Asia Pacific region, when you talk about how to overcome some of the economic irritants that have been a ceiling on the relationship, and when you talk about, what's going to have to be a very difficult process leading into Paris of trying to achieve a climate change agreement, the ability to reach out and go leader to leader is ultimately what breaks logjams.

"And having that close, personal relationship, that proves to be an important asset," Rhodes said.
The signal that is being sent from Obama and Modi into their own respective governments is going to catalyse a lot of activity, he said.

"We are going to see where we can take this relationship. It also sends a message to the world that the US and India are going to be closer partners going forward. That's entirely consistent with the President's focus on the Asia Pacific region and building closer relations with emerging powers, particularly the world's largest democracy here in India," Rhodes said.

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