Obama, Modi tout potential for deeper economic ties

World Today

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi touted the potential for deeper economic collaboration between the world’s two largest democracies Tuesday, while seeking to address concerns that they have grown apart.

Following an Oval Office meeting, Obama praised Modi for his energetic approach to addressing India’s challenges since taking office in May. He singled out in particular the prime minister’s focus on addressing “the needs of the poorest of the poor,” as well as making India a source of peace and stability in the region.

Modi said the U.S. and India had a multitude of common economic priorities and pressed Obama to make it easier for Indian services companies to access American markets.

“We already have the foundation of a strong partnership,” Modi said, according to the English translation of his remarks. “We now have to revive the momentum and ensure that we get the best out of it for our people and the world.”

On the eve of Tuesday’s talks, Obama hosted Modi for a private working dinner at the White House — despite the fact that Indian leader, a devout Hindu, was fasting.

Beyond the economy, Obama and Modi said they discussed shared intelligence on terrorism and regional concerns, including Afghanistan, where the U.S. is winding down its 13-year military involvement. Also on the agenda: clean energy, climate change, medical collaboration to fight diseases and scientific efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene throughout India.

While military ties and trade in military equipment between the two countries have grown, the economic relationship has been rockier, with Washington frustrated by India’s failure to open its economy to more foreign investment and address intellectual property complaints. Challenges with an existing civil nuclear agreement and the arrest and strip search last year of an Indian diplomat have further frayed relations.

Report complied with information from The Associated Press.