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Chalein Saath Saath: India-US sing a new tune

In a rare bonhomie of sorts, India and US issued a joint vision statement with ‘chalein sath-sath’ (forward together we go) as the central theme. Both countries vowed to make their bilateral relationship a “model” for the rest of the world to follow.

The vision statement for the US-India strategic partnership was issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with US President Barack Obama over a 90-minute private dinner in the Blue Room of White House on Monday.

“We have a vision that the US and India will have a transformative relationship as trusted partners in the 21st century. Our partnership will be a model for the rest of the world,” the leaders said in the statement.

This was the prime minister’s first meeting with Obama since taking charge at the Centre in May this year. Before this, the two had spoken just once — over phone — when the US President congratulated Modi after his election win.

“Our strategic partnership is a joint endeavour for prosperity and peace. Through intense consultations, joint exercises, and shared technology, our security cooperation will make the region and the world safe and secure,” the statement read.

Talking of greater economic cooperation, the leaders said their governments would ensure economic growth in India and the US, to bring better livelihood for all people and their welfare.

On bilateral trade in goods and services, the statement said both sides would seek to establish “open markets and fair & transparent practices”.

The two leaders seemed to share a relaxed personal equation, with Obama welcoming Modi in Gujarati style, asking: “Kem Chho?”. The President also appeared pleased to meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who had struck a friendly chord with the US Administration during Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent visit to India.

The joint vision statement reiterated Modi’s view that the United Nations needed to reform itself to become more relevant in the present times.

“We will support an open and inclusive rules-based global order, in which India assumes greater multilateral responsibility, including in a reformed United Nations Security Council. At the United Nations and beyond, our close coordination will lead to a more secure and just world,” the statement said. It also spoke at length on dealing with terrorism and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

“Together, we will combat terrorist threats and keep our homelands and citizens safe from attacks, while we respond expeditiously to humanitarian disasters and crises. We will prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and remain committed to reducing the salience of nuclear weapons, while promoting universal, verifiable, and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament,” it said.

During his address at the UN General Assembly last week, Modi had stressed the need to jointly combat terrorism.

Besides Obama, the prime minister also met Kerry, US Vice-President Joe Biden and National Security Advisor Susan Rice during his White House dinner. On the Indian side, besides Modi, were Swaraj, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, India’s Ambassador to the US S Jaishankar and external affair ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.

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