Obama’s trip to India started with a handshake and hug. India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, met the U.S. president at the airport and even called him by his first name, Barack. Through all the pageantry and pomp, the two leaders made progress on critical issues that have dogged the two largest democracies’ relationship for years.
The New York Times reports that Obama threw flowers onto the memorial for Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. The president also took peaceful strolls through gardens with Mr. Modi and shared tea. Obama was even announced by trumpets. Likely, a number of those images will be anathema to U.S. ally Pakistan.
The Indian Prime Minister’s use of President Obama’s first name is also getting noticed.
Indian lawmaker Baijayant Panda explained, “[I]t’s fairly common when Western heads of state meet, but I cannot recall an Indian prime minister calling an American president by his first name.”
But the trip is more than just symbolism and gestures.
CNN reports that the president has already made progress on military cooperation. He’s also pushed for climate change, but with limited success. The biggest accomplishments in the trip are in nuclear cooperation.
U.S. companies, like GE and Westinghouse, have long been hesitant to invest in India’s nuclear power infrastructure because India lacks laws to shield American companies from liability damages. India has refused to rewrite the laws, but now President Obama may have found common ground, as he explained in an appearance with Prime Minister Modi at the palace, Hyderabad House.
“Today we achieved a breakthrough understanding on two issues that were holding up our ability to advance our civil nuclear cooperation, and we’re committed to moving towards full implementation, and this is an important step that shows how we can work together to elevate our relationship.”
CNN reports that the two leaders were sparse on the details, and it remains to be seen if they can produce an agreement that will satisfy American companies. Still, Obama explained that after years of tense relations, the two countries were not going to instantly agree on everything.
“This new partnership will not happen overnight. It’s going to take time to build and some patience. But it’s clear from this visit that we have a new and perhaps unprecedented opportunity, and deepening our ties with India is going to remain a top foreign policy priority for my administration.”
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Barack Obama will have to cut his trip to India short. Instead of taking a trip to the famous Taj Mahal, he’ll fly to Saudi Arabia to pay respects to King Abdullah, who recently passed away.
[Image Credit: Narendra Modi/Wikimedia Commons]