Obamas depart after winning hearts in India

US Prez Barack Obama has left India after a highly-successful visit.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday left India after a highly-successful three-day visit, during which the two nations decided to take their bilateral ties to a new level.

Obama, with his wife Michelle and entourage, left for his next leg of Asia tour, Indonesia, on Air Force One from the Palam Airport here little after 8.54 am.

Obama and Michelle were given a warm send-off by Minister-in-waiting Salman Khursheed, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and other officials. US Ambassador to India
Timothy J Roemer was also present.

The US President’s visit is being described as highly successful by both the sides.

The hosts have concrete reasons to be satisfied. The big ticket announcements made by Obama include the US backing - in his speech to the Parliament - India’s bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council and breaking the decades-old economic and technological barrier that was imposed on India after its two nuclear tests.

Obama is also being lauded for concurring with India’s view that Pakistan is promoting terror havens on its soil.

On the other hand, Americans are also pleased with what have been achieved by Delhi visit. Top American officials said President Obama`s maiden visit to India "achieved everything" what Washington had hoped for.

"We believe that the visit has achieved everything that we`d hoped for," US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters.

Noted American experts cutting across ideological spectrum too termed Obama`s maiden trip to India as a triumph, saying it has taken the Indo-US relationship to an altogether new level.

"I think the (Obama) visit was a triumph," said Ashley Tellis, of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who had served as one of the foreign policy aid of the presidential campaign of Senator John McCain in 2008.

"His speech to Parliament was a masterly blend of idealism and realism and he convincingly proved the point that he personally cares about India and that the US-India relationship is vitally important for the United States - that was the most significant achievement," Tellis said.

"It turns out the skeptics were wrong. Historians will see the trip as an important milestone in the maturation and consolidation of what President Obama called `the defining partnership of the 21st century`," said Robert M Hathaway, director, Asia Program Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation, another Washington-based think-tank, said Obama`s trip was successful in consolidating Indo-US ties and even taking the engagement to a new level.

"The visit sent a clear signal of the importance his administration attaches to India, highlighting both economic and security cooperation," she said.

"Robust endorsement of India`s global role can also be seen in other more concrete initiatives like the easing of export controls on Indian organizations and support for Indian membership in non-proliferation groupings like the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime."

During the visit, the two countries signed a range of agreements in fields as diverse as education to nuclear cooperation. The agreements include a number of new initiatives, including cooperation on internal security, removal of Indian companies from the US sanctions` list and setting up of a research centre in India in civil nuclear field.

The two countries also signed deals worth USD 10 billion.

On Monday evening, in his Parliament address, Obama had expressed ‘bahut dhanyavaad’ to the people of India for their warm reception.

“US welcomes India as it prepares to take its seat at the UN Security Council. I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member,” he declared to deafening applause, reminding that US had already lent its support to India at G20, Copenhagen Climate Summit etc.

On the issue of Pakistan, he urged an end of terror against India. “The safe havens to terrorists in Pakistan are unacceptable. The perpetrators of Mumbai attacks should be brought to justice,” he said.

Taking forward his tone that India had already risen, Obama said it was not an accident that his India-stay was the longest ever in his career. "I am proud to visit India so early in my presidency," he said.

He acknowledged that relations between India and the US had transformed since the era of Bill Clinton, George W Bush and went on to elucidate on what could be “next” on agenda.

“The interests of US and India are best advanced in a partnership, I believe. The relationship between our countries is unique. Our constitutions begin with the same words: ‘We, the people’. Both our countries are dedicated to the concepts of liberty, justice and equality,” he said.

After predecessors Dwight Eisenhower in 1959, Jimmy Carter in 1978 and Bill Clinton in 2000, Obama is the fourth US President to address Indian Parliament. Before Obama, former Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed Indian MPs in 2007.