Obama for early completion of n-deal, hails India as rising global power (Round-up)

Washington, Nov 25 (Inditop.com) Showering praise on “rising and responsible global power” India, US President Barack Obama has said that he is “fully committed” to completing the landmark civil nuclear deal and underlined that the ties between the two countries will be “one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century”.

India and the US Tuesday signed an ambitious pact on ‘advancing global security and countering terrorism’, counter-terrorism and five other pacts in areas of education and development, health cooperation, economic trade and agriculture, and green partnerships to broaden the scope of their strategic partnership.

Rolling out the red carpet for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the White House in the first official state visit of his presidency, Obama Tuesday hailed India as an “indispensable” partner and “a rising and responsible global power” saying US-India ties will be a “defining partnership of the 21st century”.

Opening a joint press conference with a “Namaste”, Obama spoke of “our admiration for the Prime Minister’s leadership, the deep bonds between the peoples of the US and India, and the historic opportunity we have to strengthen and broaden the partnership between our nations.”

“India today is a rising and responsible global power. Indian leadership is expanding prosperity and the security across the region,” Obama said at a joint press meet after wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“The US welcomes and encourages India’s leadership role in helping to shape the rise of a stable, peaceful and prosperous Asia,” Obama said.

“Beyond Asia, as the world’s largest multi-ethnic democracy, as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, and as a member of the G20, India will play a pivotal role in meeting the major challenges we face today.

Obama’s robust endorsement of India’s role as a global power came days after he acknowledged China’s important role in South Asia in a US-China joint statement issued after his talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing.

The statement was viewed by some sections in India as sign of the higher status China enjoyed under the Obama dispensation at the cost of India.

Obama stressed on the need to expand the scope of their strategic dialogue in areas ranging from big-ticket issues like counter-terrorism, non-proliferation and climate change to development sectors of education, health and energy.

He said that India had a “pivotal role” beyond Asia in combating global challenges.

Allaying concerns in India, Obama “reaffirmed” his administration’s commitment to fully implement the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement,” a key objective that Manmohan Singh had set out for the visit.

“We agreed on the early and full implementation of our Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement,” said the Prime Minister even as he acknowledged in response to a question that a “a few ‘i’s’ and ‘t’s’ which” still need to be crossed

“As far as the nuclear deal is concerned, the President has reaffirmed that it is the common resolve of our two governments to operationalise the nuclear deal as early as possible,” said Manmohan Singh

“There are a few “i’s” that have to be dotted and “t’s” which have to be crossed and I am confident and I have the assurance of the President that that process can be completed without much further loss of time,” he said.

A crucial pact on reprocessing spent fuel, which the two sides were negotiating till the last moment, however, could not be finalized due to differences of perceptions over the draft text.

The differences between the two sides had been narrowed down to one and a half clause in the draft text for an agreement on reprocessing spent fuel in a dedicated national facility under international safeguards, reliable sources said.

The conclusion of the reprocessing pact, a key US commitment under the 123 bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement, would pave the way for the resumption of atomic trade between the two countries. Last month, India announced two sites for American nuclear companies in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

The prime minister also plugged for an agreement on transfer of high technologies to India, another key objective of his visit that still seemed to be a bit distant.

“Our strategic partnership should facilitate transfer of high technologies to India,” he said. “The lifting of US export controls on high technology exports to India will open vast opportunities for giant research and development efforts.”

In their first summit meeting, the two leaders found common ground in working together for continuing international engagement in Afghanistan to defeat Al Qaeda and its allies in the region.

In deference to India’s sensitivities, Obama indicated that the US has no desire to intervene in the conflict between India and Pakistan.

Recalling the upcoming anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, the two sides had also “agreed to deepen our cooperation against transnational threats.

“The American people join our Indian friends in remembering the horrific attacks in Mumbai one year ago this week,” he said. “To prevent future attacks, we agreed that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies will work even closer, including sharing more information,” he said.

Earlier, chilly, damp weather forced the White House to move the welcome ceremony indoors where Manmohan Singh and Obama stood before photographers and television cameras in the East Room.