Manmohan-Obama bilateral focused on nuclear security, Afghanistan 

Updated - November 28, 2021 08:48 pm IST

Published - April 12, 2010 08:07 am IST - Washington DC:

Nuclear security and non-proliferation, Afghanistan, food security, and poverty reduction featured prominently in the bilateral discussions between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama on Sunday, Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, told media during a teleconference.

Mr. Obama had, in particular, thanked Dr. Singh for the humanitarian and development work that India has been undertaking in Afghanistan, Mr. Rhodes added. At the meeting both leaders emphasised the strategic importance of the India-United States relationship to the entire world, he said.

The Singh-Obama meeting was the first in series of bilateral talks that President Obama is holding prior to the kickoff of the Nuclear Security Summit of April 12-13.

During the media interaction Mr. Rhodes however declined to comment on whether or not Mr. Obama had assured Dr. Singh that India would have access to Mumbai attacks suspect David Coleman Headley, currently in custody in the U.S. The case is the responsibility of the U.S. Justice Department and the Attorney General, he said.

No binding communiqué likely

Regarding the question of whether a binding communiqué would emerge as a result of the summit discussions Mr. Rhodes said that the main outcome of the meetings in Washington would be to move towards the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear materials world over within the next four years.

“Specific national actions… and concrete steps towards such an effort will be required,” Mr. Rhodes said in this regard, and countries such as Chile have already demonstrated the role of national commitments to global nuclear security by transferring their stocks of enriched uranium to the U.S..

Laura Holgate, Senior Director, WMD Terrorism and Threat Reduction, further added that no legally binding communiqué would emerge from this summit; however there will be a political agreement. This would be consistent with the overall aim of the summit, which was to raise awareness of the threat of nuclear terrorism and the actions needed to tackle that threat, she said.

Other bilateral discussions

On other key bilateral discussions held by President Obama, Mr. Rhodes said that the U.S. had established a new agreement on the Northern Distribution Network during discussions with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Under this agreement the U.S. would be able to utilise polar air routes that then channelled both troops and equipment supplies via Kazakhstan into countries such as Afghanistan. This would save the U.S. significant amounts of time and money, Mr. Rhodes explained.

On President’s Obama’s bilateral discussions with the President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and President Nazarbayev, Mr. Rhodes commented that both countries had given up plans for nuclear weapons development that they might have had in the past, and yet were on the route to nuclear security and economic prosperity.

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