Obamas visit will strengthen bilateral ties: MEA

New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said US President Barack Obama’s visit to India would strengthen bilateral ties across the full spectrum of the relationship between the two countries.

“We see the visit of President Obama to India as strengthening our ties across the full breadth of our full spectrum relationship. Ties between our government, ties between our people and institutions,” said MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.

While giving details of the itinerary of the US President’s three-day visit to India, Akbaruddin confirmed to the reporters Obama will land at Delhi International Airport on January 25 at 10 am.

Akbaruddin also confirmed Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal would be the minister-in-waiting during Obama’s visit.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will welcome President Obama at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“At the ceremonial welcome, the Prime Minister will be there to welcome President Obama at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He will also be leading the Indian delegation at the bilateral talks. Bilateral discussions at Hyderabad House will be in restricted format, delegation-level discussions will be over lunch. In the evening, at the official banquet, Prime Minister Modi will be present as a guest and President of India will be the host,” he said.

“The next day both the leaders will be there in the Republic Day celebrations. Subsequently in the afternoon, the Prime Minister will be there at the president’s place. After that, the two leaders will address a business event. President Obama will also address Mann ki Baat along with Prime Minister Modi,” he added.

Akbaruddin also said President Obama will visit the Taj Mahal in Agra on January 27 before departing for the US.

Security was stepped up along the international border between India and Pakistan and in the capital in view of the US President’s visit.

Obama will arrive in New Delhi on January 25 to take part in Republic Day celebrations on the invitation of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. He will be the first US President to attend a Republic Day celebration, the White House said. Obama, who visited India in 2010, would also be the first US president to visit the country twice while in office.

Obama’s participation at Republic Day celebrations as chief guest is a sign of steadily expanding ties between the two countries that share concerns about China’s growing power in Asia.

India traditionally invites a head of state to participate as chief guest for Republic Day celebrations, which culminates in a military parade including its nuclear capable missiles.

Modi met Obama on a visit to the US in September last year and they have spoken by telephone since. Their relationship is thought to have helped resolve a major trade spat in the World Trade Organization.

Meanwhile speaking on Obama’s visit, Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, said: “It’s long been discussed that as two very large economies and the world’s two largest democracies, there’s extraordinary potential in this relationship.  What we want to do is turn that potential into concrete benefits for both of our peoples.”

“And so this trip I think comes at a time when we have a growing agenda with India.  And a lot of what the President wants to get done over the course of the next two years will benefit greatly from closer cooperation with India, and I’ll go through that in the context of working through the schedule here.”

Ben said there’s room for bilateral enhancements, and also greater cooperation on global issues.  For instance, on climate change and clean energy, the US are looking to increase their cooperation in pursuit of developing clean energy, but also pursuing a successful and ambitious round of climate negotiations this year leading into Paris. 

He said: “We will have an ability to continue our work with India, and discussing ways that we can cooperate in pursuit of that global effort to combat climate change, but also to cooperate in the development of clean energy, the pursuit of clean air, and enhanced public health, which has been a priority of Prime Minster Modi as well.”

“In terms of trade and investment, there’s enormous potential in the relationship, so we will be looking at how we can work through a range of impediments to enhance US-India commercial ties. In terms of security cooperation, we have maintained an important defense relationship with India.  We also cooperate on counterterrorism issues, and the two leaders will have an opportunity to review those issues together.”

(With inputs from ANI)

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