Obama Looking Forward to Meeting with Prime Minister, Says White House

Obama and PM

File photo of President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh posing after a joint press conference in New Delhi on Nov. 8, 2010 in New Delhi, India. (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON D.C.:  President Barack Obama is looking forward to meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here Sept. 26 to discuss a wide range of issues and their shared objectives, the White House has said.

“He (Obama) very much looks forward to the meeting,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters ahead of Singh’s arrival in the American capital.

“He looks forward to having a discussion about all of the issues and shared objectives that the U.S. and India have,” Carney said.

Singh is scheduled to arrive in Washington Sept. 26.

During the meeting at the White House, the two leaders will discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues, officials from both sides said.

Singh will be in the U.S. to attend the UN General Assembly sessions.

The prime minister and Obama will meet Sept. 27 to chart a course for “future cooperation” in areas like civil nuclear technology, trade, investment, defense and counter-terrorism, amid perceptions that bilateral strategic ties have plateaued.

Some agreements including in the field of defense are expected to be signed after the summit meeting between the two leaders, their third since 2009.

During the meeting at the Oval Office in the White House, Singh is expected to flag India’s concerns over the proposed changes in U.S. visa norms which would affect the highly-skilled IT professionals from India.

The situation in the South Asian region, including Afghanistan after withdrawal of U.S.-led forces next year, besides global issues like Syria are also expected to figure in the talks.

Before embarking on the visit, Singh said, “Over the past decade, our relationship with the U.S., which is one of our most important relationships, has transformed into a global strategic partnership.”

The prime minister said India sees the U.S. as a long-term partner in the country’s development efforts, and in fostering a global environment that is conducive to its growth.

Singh said, “For India, the U.S. remains a key source of technology, investment, innovation, resources and one of the most important destinations for our goods and services.

“We have productive and deepening partnerships in trade and investment, defense, counter-terrorism, intelligence, internal security, cyber security, civil nuclear energy, environment, health, higher education, space, science and technology and culture,” he said.

From Washington, Singh will move to New York to address the UN General Assembly on the sidelines of which he will meet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The prime minister said he looked forward to meeting with leaders of neighboring countries including Pakistan during his visit to New York.

Singh noted that the UN General Assembly will focus this year on the follow-up to the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro, which marked the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit.

The General Assembly will also look at drawing up the global development agenda after 2015, which is the target date for the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000.

A top U.S. senator, meanwhile, said Sept. 26 that it is time that the Indo-U.S. friendship moves into a more mature partnership.

Senator Mark Warner, co-chair of Senate India Caucus, while acknowledging sharp differences between India and the United States on a range of economic and trade issues including immigration, said, “I think our friendship has to move into a more mature partnership.”

Warner was speaking during a Congressional hearing entitled “Assessing the Investment Climate and Improving Market Access in Financial Services in India,” ahead of Obama and Singh’s summit at the White House.

Testifying before the Senate sub-committee during the hearing, noted economist Arvind Subramanian from the Peterson Institute for International Economics said India’s problems have more durable domestic origin. And clearly, going forward, reforms would be necessary to kind of stabilize the economy, the Indian American argued.

“The Indian economy recently encountered serious turbulence, and would require reforms to stabilize the economy,” he added.

In his testimony, Subramanian told lawmakers that further opening to foreign investors, especially providers of financial services, is likely.

Subramanian said a bilateral investment treaty is a stepping-stone for creating a broader strategic framework for U.S.-India economic relations.

A bipartisan group of three top senators reiterated that a strong relationship with India is critically important to American interests.

Welcoming Singh on his U.S. visit, senators Mark Warner, John Corny and Robert Menendez introduced a Congressional resolution which says that there is a strong potential for increasing the bilateral relationship between both the countries.
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