In Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Barack Obama has ‘found a partner’ to extend and strengthen the relationship between India and the United States, the White House said on Tuesday after the two leaders met for the seventh time in less than two years.
"The President is pleased that he has found a partner in Prime Minister Modi to extend and strengthen the relationship,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
"I think what makes the relationship between Prime Minister Modi and President Obama so strong is the shared commitment that they have to warm relations between our two countries,” he said.
Both leaders recognise that a strong relationship between the US and India benefits the economy, the national security and the people of the US and India, Earnest said, adding that he thinks this is what animates their relationship.
"The President obviously has had an opportunity to spend time socially with Prime Minister Modi. Modi, as I recall, hosted a very nice state dinner for President Obama in India on Republic Day when the president was there last year,” he said.
"Unfortunately, the president was not able to visit the Taj Mahal on that trip, but the president is certainly looking forward to having an opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal at some point after leaving the White House,” Earnest said.
The White House Press Secretary said Obama is committed to strengthening the relationship between the US and India.
"We want to look for every opportunity we can to remove impediments in that important relationship because the world and surely the citizens of our two countries benefit from a stronger relationship,” he said.
"So we’re seeking to deepen our cooperation on economic issues, on national security issues, on fighting terrorism, on fighting climate change. There are a whole host of ways in which the United States and India can work together to improve the world for the citizens in our two countries. And President Obama has made this relationship a priority,” Earnest said.
"In fact, President Obama was interested in strengthening US ties with India even before Prime Minister Modi took office,” he said, adding that the very first state dinner that Obama and the First Lady hosted at the White House was to host Modi’s predecessor at the White House.
"That was an important event and I think it was an important symbol about the priority that the president places on the US relationship with India,” he said.
Earnest also said that Obama and Modi could not address a joint press conference after their meeting because of scheduling issues and the two leaders wanted more time to discuss several pressing matters.
"I think the issue was just a matter of scheduling," he said.
"Between the private engagements that the President and the prime minister had both in the Oval Office and over lunch, that there was time for the two leaders to speak to professional independent journalists that cover the White House and that cover the Indian prime minister, but there was no time on the schedule for the two leaders to take questions,” Earnest said.