President Barack Obama backed India's bid for NSG membership

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President Barack Obama  backed India's bid for membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) amid a major push to the strategic ties between the two countries which finalised a "roadmap" to give India the status of US' close partner in the defence sector.Obama, who held over hour-long talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, also promised to cooperate with India against terrorist threats from groups such as Pakistan-based Jaish-e Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba as well as 'D' Company, a reference to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

 

"In this context, they (the two leaders) directed their officials to identify specific new areas of collaboration at the next meeting of US-India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group," said a Joint Statement issued after the talks.Significantly, the American side also committed itself to treating Pathankot attack at par with 26/11 terror strike in terms of ensuring punishment to perpetrators based in Pakistan.The two countries also decided to start work on construction of six American nuclear reactors in India amid affirmation that the Liability issue has been addressed.

 

Six pacts, including one on exchange of screening of terror information, besides two other documents were signed after the talks that mainly covered issues like terrorism, clean energy, climate change, defence, regional security, cyber security, economic ties and people-to-people contacts.Addressing the media jointly with Modi at his Oval office, Obama said it was natural for India and the US, two biggest democracies, to "deepen and broaden" partnership. Progress made in the Civil Nuclear agreement was among the issues discussed, Obama said. "I indicated support to India being a part of NSG," the US President said in remarks which assume significance since China is opposing such a move.

 

 

Obama underlined that India needs technology, which is critical for its progress and prosperity. The 50-point Joint Statement said, "President Obama welcomed India's application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and re-affirmed that India is ready for membership. The United States called on NSG Participating Governments to support India's application when it comes up at the NSG Plenary later this month."The United States also re-affirmed its support for India's early membership of the Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement."Modi later said, "I am ever thankful for the help and support that my friend President Obama has extended with regard to membership in MTCR and NSG."

 

Seeking to boost the strategic ties, India and the US finalised the text of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). "Noting that the US-India defence relationship can be an anchor of stability, and given the increasingly strengthened cooperation in defence, the United States hereby recognizes India as a Major Defence Partner," the Joint Statement said. "The United States will continue to work toward facilitating technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners," it said.

 

Briefing the media, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said the two sides finalised a "roadmap" under which India can have "better" and "licence-free" access to America's defence and dual-use technology.The framework will also ensure that the relationship goes beyond that of sale and collaboration and encompasses the 'Make in India' initiative, whereby defence equipment could be manufactured in India through transfer of technology, he said. "The leaders reached an understanding under which India would receive license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in conjunction with steps that India has committed to take to advance its export control objectives.”

 

"In support of India's 'Make in India' initiative, and to support the development of robust defence industries and their integration into the global supply chain, the United States will continue to facilitate the export of goods and technologies, consistent with U.S. law, for projects, programs and joint ventures in support of official U.S.-India defence cooperation," the statement said.According to the statement, the US committed to enhance cooperation in support of India's 'Make in India' Initiative and expand the co-production and co-development of technologies under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). "They welcomed the establishment of new DTTI working groups to include agreed items covering Naval Systems, Air Systems, and other Weapons Systems," it said.

 

The leaders announced the finalization of the text of an Information Exchange Annex under the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation. Obama also said that he looks forward to India's entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)."Recalling their shared commitment to preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, the leaders looked forward to India’s imminent entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime," said the Joint Statement titled 'The United States and India: Enduring Global Partners in the 21st Century'.

 

The United States and India will work together to combat the threat of terrorists accessing and using chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological materials, it said.During the meeting, Modi offered to host a Summit on Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism in 2018, which was welcomed by Obama.They also discussed the steps that the two governments have taken in the last two years in the implementation of the Civil Nuclear deal, including by addressing the liability issue, "inter alia, through India's ratification of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage".

 

"Culminating a decade of partnership on civil nuclear issues, the leaders welcomed the start of preparatory work on site in India for six AP 1000 reactors to be built by Westinghouse and noted the intention of India and the US Export-Import Bank to work together toward a competitive financing package for the project," the statement said."Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind, fulfilling the promise of the US-India civil nuclear agreement and demonstrating a shared commitment to meet India's growing energy needs while reducing reliance on fossil fuels.”

 

"Both sides welcomed the announcement by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, and Westinghouse that engineering and site design work will begin immediately and the two sides will work toward finalizing the contractual arrangements by June 2017," it said.The two leaders noted that the United States and India share common climate and clean energy interests and are close partners in the fight against climate change. "Leadership from both countries helped galvanize global action to combat climate change and culminated in the historic Paris Agreement reached last December.

 

Both countries are committed to working together and with others to promote full implementation of the Paris Agreement to address the urgent threats posed by climate change," it said.They recognized the urgency of climate change and share the goal of enabling entry into force of the Paris Agreement as early as possible."The United States reaffirms its commitment to join the Agreement as soon as possible this year. India similarly has begun its processes to work toward this shared objective," the statement said.

 

The leaders reiterated their commitment to pursue low greenhouse gas emission development strategies in the pre-2020 period and to develop long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.Further, the two countries will pursue under the leadership of the G20 strong outcomes to promote improved heavy-duty vehicle standards and efficiency in accordance with their national priorities and capabilities. The two sides also signed an MOU to Enhance Cooperation on Energy Security, Clean Energy and Climate Change, and an MOU on Cooperation in Gas Hydrates. The two sides also signed an MOU to enhance cooperation on Wildlife Conservation and Combating Wildlife Trafficking.

 

With regard to Clean Energy Finance, the US expressed support to India's ambitious national goals to install 175 GW of renewable power which includes 100 GW from solar power.It also welcomed the launch of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), recognized the critical role it can play in the development and deployment of solar power, and intended pursuing membership in the ISA, the Joint Statement said.To strengthen ISA together, the US and India will jointly launch the third Initiative of the ISA which will focus on off-grid solar for energy access at the Founding Conference of ISA in September, 2016 in India.

 

The United States also remains committed, with other developed countries, to the goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation and adaptation action.The US is committed to bring to bear its technical capacity, resources and private sector, and is jointly launching with India new efforts, to spur greater investment in India's renewable energy sector, including efforts that can serve as a model for other ISA Member Countries.The two countries also finalised a roadmap for cooperation under the 2015 U.S.-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, which will serve as a guide for collaboration in the years to come.

 

They resolved that the United States and India should look to each other as priority partners in the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean region.The two countries also concluded technical arrangement for sharing of maritime 'White Shipping' information.In an apparent reference to South China Sea dispute, the two leaders reiterated the importance they attach to ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and exploitation of resources as per international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and settlement of territorial disputes by peaceful means. As part of encouraging people-to-people contacts, India decided to open another consulate in Seattle.

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