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India-US strategic partnership to be the highlight of Prime Minister Modi’s five nation tour

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  • June 04, 2016

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi is embarking on a five-nation tour to Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, United States and Mexico today. Prime Minister’s first stop will be Afghanistan where he along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, will jointly inaugurate the Salma Dam situated in Herat province of western Afghanistan. This dam now known as ‘Afghan-India Friendship Dam’ has been built with Delhi’s assistance. This indicates India’s continued support and partnership for reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. The Qatar visit is significant in view of India’s energy security as well as its outreach to West Asia. Mr. Modi will hold extensive discussions with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on a range of issues with special focus on the Hydrocarbon sector. During the year 2015-16, 65 per cent of India’s total LNG requirements were fulfilled by Qatar. In Switzerland, Mr. Modi will hold talks with President of the Swiss Confederation Johann Schneider-Ammann. Prime Minister Modi is likely to discuss the early conclusion of an agreement regarding automatic exchange of tax information which will help tracking unaccounted money which might have been deposited in Swiss Banks by Indian nationals. During Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Mexico, issues relating to agriculture, energy, space and science and technology as well as multilateral cooperation are likely to be discussed. The major highlight of this tour would be Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the United States beginning June 7. This would be Mr. Modi’s fourth visit to the United States in his two years in office. Even President Obama, during his two terms, visited India twice, thus becoming the first US president to do so. These regular bilateral visits by top leaders of India and the United States to each other’s capitals clearly indicates that India-US strategic partnership is constantly deepening and moving towards attaining higher levels of maturity.

    Prime Minister Modi will hold comprehensive discussions with US President Barack Obama on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues. The significance of the visit will be to consolidate the progress made in diverse areas such as economy, energy, environment, defence and security, and to intensify cooperation for the future. Among major issues, security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is likely to be one key areas of discussion. Mr. Modi’s visit to United States, Switzerland and Mexico assumes special significance as these three nations are Nuclear Security Group (NSG) members and the visits to these countries will greatly help in coordinating India’s efforts for securing its membership in the group. In Washington DC, the Indian Prime Minister will have the honour of addressing a joint session of US Congress on June 8. While inviting Prime Minister Modi to address US Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan had noted, “This address presents a special opportunity to hear from the elected leader of the world’s most populous democracy on how our two nations can work together to promote our shared values and to increase prosperity.” This will be a historic occasion. It is likely that Prime Minister Modi would be discussing his long term vision for India and its role in regional and global affairs and India-US strategic partnership.

    It would be worth noting that India-US strategic partnership which is based on a solid foundation of shared values, shared interests and shared challenges has deepened further during Obama presidency. India-US bilateral defence trade has reached at about 14 billion USD. India conducts more military exercises with the United States as compare to any other nation. India and US are working together to transform their defence relations from being a buyer-seller to coproduction and co-development through Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) which vindicate the visionary ‘Make in India’ programme of Prime Minister Modi. India-US defence framework agreement has been renewed for another 10 years in June, 2015.

    To realize the vast untapped potential of economic partnership between two largest democracies, both nations are aspiring to take their bilateral trade to 500 billion USD in years to come which is currently above 100 billion USD in goods and services per year. The US State Department has noted that United States is looking forward to “having a very robust, comprehensive discussion with the prime minister”; Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Washington would provide greater vision and direction for India-US strategic partnership.

    The article was originally published in the All India Radio ‘AIR World Service’