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PM to meet Obama at White House today

Washington (PTI):Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet US President Barack Obama at the White House today to review the status of the bilateral relationship and chart a course for the future, particularly in the areas of defence, security, trade and investment and civil nuclear cooperation.

US Vice President Joe Biden, who was in India early this year and considered to be a strong advocate of India-US relationship, would also join the meeting at Oval Office, which is scheduled to begin at 2100 IST (1130 hours local Washington time), the White House said.

This is the third Obama-Singh summit meeting, the previous ones being in 2009 and 2010. The meeting will highlight India’s role in regional security and stability and provide, the White House said with presidential spokesman stating that Obama is looking forward to the meeting with Singh.

Following the meeting, the two leaders would issue a joint statement in a brief media interaction. Thereafter, Obama would host Singh for a lunch. First Lady Michelle Obama will be hosting Gursharan Kaur, wife of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for a tea at her residence.

Singh and his delegation would soon fly to New York for the second and final leg of his US trip to address the UN General Assembly and meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on September 19.

Earlier on his arrival, the Prime Minister said the US is one of the most important strategic partner of India, noting that the two countries have taken several steps to widen and deepen this partnership in diverse ways.

“And during President Obama’s regime, we have taken several steps to widen and deepen this partnership in diverse fields,” he said.

“And during the present visit, we will review the progress that has been made and also what further can be done to give added meaning and content to this partnership,” Singh said.

“The United States is one of India’s most important trading partners, important provider of investment and technology support for India’s development and we need the United States on our side as we move to give new added trust to our development programmes,” he said.

“We will also review the international situation particularly with reference to international economic situation and other important areas like South East Asia, Middle East and West Asia,” Singh said.

Indian Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao, said the meeting would not only review the progress made in the relationship but also set the pace and scope of the ties between the two largest democracies of the world and help accelerate the momentum of the co-operation.

In a media interaction, Rao said a great deal have been achieved in the relationship in the strategic partnership between the two countries in recent years.

“In true sense of the word it is a full spectrum relationship,” she said, adding that the relationship not only has bilateral relevance and substance, but also extends to the regional situation and the larger global environment.

Noting that this is a relationship between the world’s largest and important democracies, Rao said there is a true concordance of many interests here.

“Shared interests and shared concerns definitely,” she said.

Reiterating India’s concerns over certain provisions of the immigration reform, in particular those related to the H-1B and L1 visas, Rao said the Prime Minister intends to raise this issue with the US President.

From the US side, she acknowledged that the issues that might crop up during the meeting would be the economic and trade policies of India, which New Delhi has tried its best to address, which has been an issue of concern among American businesses.

“From our side, we would like the United States to understand the development challenges that we face, the situation in which we live, in terms of the environment around us,” Rao said.

Responding to questions, Rao said issues of cross border terrorism and those related to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hafiz Saeed is very much in the agenda of the discussions with the United States. The US is aware of the depth of the Indian concerns on this issue.

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