‘Equals’ India, US take ties to next level

Manmohan Singh said Indo-US strategic relationship will positively influence world peace.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday declared that India and the US have decided to work as equals in "a strategic relationship that will positively and decisively influence world peace".

Addressing a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama here after delegation level talks, Dr Singh said the two countries had agreed to broaden the strategic dialogue to cover many areas.

The US and India would also initiate joint projects in Afghanistan and Africa, he said.

Dr Singh also welcomed the US decision to lift controls on export of high-tech items and technology to India and support New Delhi`s membership to multilateral bodies like the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

"This is a manifestation of the growing trust and confidence in each other," the PM said, adding that the US and India would expand cooperation in space, nuclear and defence sectors.

In his opening remarks, Obama said that he and his wife Michelle were thrilled to be in India and thanked Prime Minister Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur for extending the incredible hospitality.

Describing India as an indispensable ally, Obama said the partnership between India and the US is needed to “address challenges of our time, from tackling terror to preventing spread of nuclear weapons, fighting climate change, forging economic cooperation etc.”

All this, the US President said, is not possible without a strong Indo-US cooperation.

“Ours is no ordinary relationship… it is a partnership between two nations with strong traditions of pluralism,” Obama said, reiterating what he has been saying all along his India trip: “The relationship between India and the US would be the defining partnership of 21st Century.”

Describing Dr Singh as a man of extraordinary intellect, Obama said during his delegation level talks with the Prime Minister he discussed steps on “how to take our friendship forward.”

Obama said he couldn’t recall any previous occasion where the two countries have agreed on these many number of steps to take the bilateral partnership forward.

He said the two nations have decided to “expand trade and economic partnership… for our people’s prosperity.”

“Trade deals signed in Mumbai are important steps to elevating India as key US trade partner,” Obama added.

He specifically listed out a deal under which India will purchase ten C-17 cargo planes, which in turn will secure 22,000 jobs back in the US.

Obama also noted that the two leaders have agreed to reduce key trade barriers and protectionism.

The two nations have also agreed to deepen the partnership in clean energy technology, Obama said, adding a clean energy research centre would be set up in India with joint efforts.

On the terror front, the US President said the two nations have decided to enhance cooperation between their Intelligence, “to ensure the safety of our citizens.”

As part of the initiative, the US Homeland Security and the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs would cooperate on matters of intelligence.

While making no mention of Pakistan in his opening remarks, Obama said, “We agreed on the need for all nations in the region to take steps to ensure that there are no safe havens for terrorists.”

Acknowledging India’s role as a partner in civilian reconstruction in Afghanistan, Obama thanked the Indian people for their generous contribution for improving the lives of Afghan people.

On the nuclear front, the US President said India will build a new centre of excellence for nuclear energy and security as part of global nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

The two nations also agreed to deepen bilateral consultations on East Asia as India expands its influence there, Obama noted.

Further, the US President said he agreed with the Indian Prime Minister on consultations on global issues, including international institutions like the UN, to reflect the reality of the 21st Century.

Obama also announced the launch of two initiatives to harness technology - to build on green revolution and food security, as part of bilateral cooperation in the field of agriculture.

(With agency inputs)