As US President Barack Obama prepares to have his first meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in London on April 2,the White House said the president wants to “advance and strengthen” bi-lateral ties with India.
The White House spokesman Robert Gibbs announced on Wednesday that Obama will be meeting Singh on April 2 in London on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit.
“The President looks forward to working with the Prime Minister to advance and strengthen the US-India bilateral relationship,” Benjamin Chang,Deputy Spokesman,National Security Council,White House,said.
“This will be the President’s first meeting with Prime Minister Singh and the two leaders will discuss a range of bilateral,regional,and global issues,including the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategic review,climate change,and the world economy,” Chang said.
Singh is one of the few world leaders with whom Obama would be meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.
The current situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is expected to figure prominently at the meeting of the two leaders. The new Af-Pak policy of the US is also expected to be out by that time.
Early this week,in the first public speech on India from a top Obama Administration official,the Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg had said both President and the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are committed to expanding relationship with India.
“President Obama and Secretary Clinton remain committed to expanding these opportunities and our cooperation. As India approaches national elections in the coming months,we look forward to developing a comprehensive agenda – doing more bilaterally,regionally,and globally,across the full spectrum of economic,political and security challenges,” he said addressing a meeting.
The new administration not only wants to build on the bi-lateral relationship,but also wants India to play a key role in resolving regional and addressing global issues together.
“As India emerges as one of the world’s leading economic and political powers,the central question are how the United States and India can work together to address the regional and global challenges that no one country alone can solve,” he said.
To paraphrase my old boss,President (Bill) Clinton,the central question facing India in the coming years is how India defines its greatness as it takes an increasingly prominent role in global affairs,” he said.
“In the twenty-first century,the emergence of India as strong,stable,democratic and outwardly looking global player with global interests has the potential to enhance the effectiveness of the international system and the security and well-being of all,in a positive sum game,” Steinberg said.
“For this reason,the real test of our relationship will be how we work together on the great common challenges of our era – strengthening the global trade and investment system,addressing transnational threats like nuclear weapons proliferation,terrorism and pandemic disease,and meeting the urgent danger posed by climate change,” he said.
Whether at the UN,the WTO or the Conference on Disarmament,both India and the US have a responsibility to eschew rhetoric in favour of forward-looking,practical solutions to the great issues of the time,he observed.
“We will begin this work next week in London,where the G-20 leaders will meet to discuss how to address both the near term and systemic challenges posed by the global financial crisis and where President Obama and Prime Minister Singh will have a chance to meet face to face to share views,” Steinberg said.