US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra 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, a presidential spokesman said today.
“I think the issue was just a matter of scheduling,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest 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.
During his daily news conference, White House correspondents asked multiple questions on why the leaders of the two largest democracies did not address a joint news conference.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi did made a joint media appearance where they made brief remarks to the press, buy did not take any questions.
Updates from the joint press conference:
22:20 IST: U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday welcomed the start of preparatory work on six nuclear reactors in India, a key step in closing the first deal stemming from a U.S.-India civil nuclear accord struck over a decade ago. > Read more
22:00 IST: I am thankful for the help and support that my friend Mr. Obama has extended with regard to membership in MTCR and NSG, says Mr. Modi and ends the conference.
21:55 IST: India has made a name for itself as fastest growing economy in the world. Will work together for world's peace and security, says the PM
21:50 IST: We have discussed a range of issues of coopn today from business and technology to governance, says Mr. Modi
21:40 IST: We discussed how to take economic ties to new heights, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi after talks with Mr. Obama.
21:35 IST: Modi says in Hindi, President Obama has offered immense support to India on many issues including Missile technology control regime,NSG
21:34 IST: Mr. Obama says he discussed with Mr. Modi how to bring Paris climate agreement into force as quickly as possible.
21:33 IST: India and US are the largest democracies in the world. Our wider cooperation will be helpful for developg countries of the world: Obama
21:32 IST: It is natural for India and US to deepen and broaden partnership, says President Barack Obama.
21:30 IST: President Obama says: India is a young country and we are aware of the talent it has. We will continue to work together in the future too.
"The President looks forward to discussing progress made on our climate change and clean energy partnership, security and defence cooperation, and economic growth priorities,” the White House had said.
After the meeting, the two leaders are scheduled to address the media inside the Oval Office for about 15 minutes.
Soon thereafter, Mr. Obama will host Mr. Modi for a working lunch in the Cabinet Room of the White House.
“They have two pretty lengthy meetings. One would be in the Oval Office. Then there is a little bit of a press spray.
Then they would shift to a lunch meeting as well. It is pretty significant,” the official said.
US backs India's NSG bid
Backing India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the US has said by becoming the member of the elite grouping the country would be in a stronger position to be a “good citizen” on proliferation related issues
“Having gone down the path of the civil nuclear agreement with India, and having invested a significant amount of time in building up our cooperation with India as it relates to nuclear security,” said Deputy National Security Advisor, Benjamin Rhodes. >Read more
Notwithstanding a “difficult political” climate in India, Modi “demonstrated” the country’s leadership on the issue of climate change, the White House has said.
“I don’t have anything to say about potential deliverables yet. We may have more on this tomorrow, obviously. I can tell you that there are a couple of things that the President is interested in discussing Prime Minister Modi,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday.
The US is “committed” to helping India build its defence capabilities until it could be the “net provider of security” in the Asia-Pacific region, a senior Obama administration official said.
“There is a recognition that as India grows and develops the capacity to protect its interests, not just in immediate region, but also broadly throughout Asia Pacific particularly in the Indian Ocean region. It is in the US interest to build India that capacity until it can truly be the net provider of security,” the official said.
“Whether India decides to operate with us or not, we are committed to helping India develop that capacity to protect its own interest and to ensure that the Indian Ocean region is free from the kind of threats to maritime transport, shipping, the way it is being in the South China Sea,” he said.
Modi's schedule on Tuesday (local time)
11 a.m.: Arrival at at White House
11.10 a.m. to 12.10 p.m. : Meeting with President Barack Obama
12.10 p.m. to 12.25 p.m.: Joint press conference with Obama
12.30 to 1.30 p.m.: Lunch with Mr. Obama
5.30 p.m.: Meeting with business leaders at Mellon auditorium
7 to 8.30 p.m.: Address US India Business Council.
Here's a rarely-seen view of the Hall of the House. >@pmoindia will address Congress from this spot on Wed @ 11am ET. >pic.twitter.com/GA1pj6mFOt— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) >June 6, 2016
(End of Day 3)
A focus on heritage & culture...I thank the US government for the return of precious cultural artefacts to India. >pic.twitter.com/9mxjtEU527— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) >June 7, 2016
Modi arrives in U.S., pay homage to Kalpana Chawla
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday began his three-day US visit by laying a wreath at the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers and paying homage to Indian-American astronaut late Kalpana Chawla at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington. > Read more
Mr. Modi has a packed schedule here, including the address to a joint session of the US Congress. He will be the fifth Indian Prime Minister to do so. Modi is visiting the US at the invitation of President Obama.
“Penultimate leg of PM Narendra Modi’s journey begins as he arrives in Washington D.C. on a sunny summer afternoon,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
US’ Ambassador to India Richard Verma and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Biswal were among the top officials present at the base to receive Prime Minister Modi.
Swiss back India’s bid for nuclear group membership
India, on Monday, got the backing of Switzerland in its bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) ahead of the group’s crucial meeting. The two countries also resolved to strengthen cooperation in combating tax evasion and black money.
Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann announced his country’s support to India’s membership in the 48-member grouping after holding comprehensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. > Read more
With the issues of black money and India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) high on the agenda, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held a meeting with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Amman. “The meetings in Switzerland begin... President Schneider-Amman and PM Narendra Modi hold talks in Geneva,” The Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Switzerland, the third stop in his five-nation tour, on Monday. He is expected to hold talks with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann to deepen bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Ahead of his five-nation tour, Mr. Modi had described Switzerland as India’s key partner in Europe.
“I will hold talks with President Schneider-Ammann to deepen our bilateral and multilateral cooperation. In Geneva, I will meet prominent businesspersons. Our agenda will be to expand economic and investment ties. I will meet Indian scientists working at CERN. India takes pride in their contribution to exploring new frontiers of science in the service of humanity,” he had said.
The Prime Minister is likely to raise the issue of black money stashed by Indians in Swiss banks.
Mr. Modi is also likely to seek Switzerland’s support for India’s membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group as it is a key member of the elite grouping. From Geneva, Mr. Modi will travel to the U.S. and then to Mexico before returning to India.
5.31 am: Had a wonderful interaction with leading think tanks, says Modi
5.30 am: After history & culture, it's current & strategic affairs. Think tanks meet PM, share perspective on various issues.
5.15 am: "Today we begin the process of returning more than 200 stolen cultural objects back to India", says US Attorney Genera l.
5.11 am: For some, these artefacts may be measured in monetary terms but for us this is beyond that. It's a part of our culture & heritage: Modi.
5.10 am: Have observed that many nations have returned cultural artefacts, when it came to their notice that such treasures are in their nation: PM
5.00 am: Modi attends the ceremony of return of idols
3.30 pm : "Held detailed discussions with Swiss CEOs. Glad that economic linkages between our nations are strong & vibrant," tweeted Prime Minister Modi after the meetings.
Economic focus...PM meets Swiss CEOs to deepen economic ties. CEOs across several sectors have joined the meeting. >pic.twitter.com/DPWTmqUzXJ— PMO India (@PMOIndia) >June 6, 2016
1.50 p.m.: PM tells Swiss watch industry:The diamonds on Swiss watches come from Gujarat. So am fully sensitive to year concerns.
1.47 p.m.: We want to have manufacturing of global standards. Swiss model of skill development is very relevant for us, says PM Modi.
1.45 p.m.: Within my country I need to create two or three Switzerlands. So scope for partnership is immense, says PM Modi.
PM: We want to have manufacturing of global standards. Hence Swiss model of skill development very relevant for us. >pic.twitter.com/8G1pA9IUwt— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) >June 6, 2016
1.44 p.m.: "India is not just a market of 1.25 billion. We have skills and a government open to business."
1:43 p.m.: Mr. Modi meets business leaders in Geneva.
1:30 p.m.: The two leaders thereafter led delegation-level talks. “A closer engagement with the heart of Europe. President and PM lead delegation level talks IndiaSwitzerland,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweets.
A closer engagement with the heart of Europe. President and PM lead delegation level talks >#IndiaSwitzerland>pic.twitter.com/vtvVWXbP8l— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) >June 6, 2016
Mr. Modi's engagements in Geneva (local time)
8:00 am: Restricted Meeting with President Johann Schneider
8:30 am: Delegation-level talks
9:45 am: Meetiing leaders of the business community.
10:45 am: Press Statements
11 am: Interaction with Indian researchers
11:30 am: To leave for Washington.
(End of day 2)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday held talks with Qatar Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha, taking forward bilateral ties with an important Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member. India and Qatar signed seven bilateral agreements.
Some of the agreements include:
- MoU on cooperation in tourism .
- Agreement on cooperation and mutual assistance in custom matters.
- MoU on Finance Intelligence Unit-India (FIU-IND) and Qatar Financial Information Unit (QFIU).
- MoU for investment in National investment & infrastructure fund.
- MoU in the field of youth and sports.
- MoU on cooperation in skill development & recognition of qualifications.
- MoU on cooperation in the field of health.
Ahead of the talks, Mr. Modi was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Emiri Diwan.
8.20 pm: PM Modi departs from Doha for Geneva, Switzerland, for the third leg of his 5-day-5-nation visit.
7.40 pm: "India’s image has been enhanced globally. We will free India from corruption," says Modi.
7.35 pm: We have introduced several schemes for combating corruption, for fiscal discipline and economic reforms: Modi ( ANI)
7.32 pm: "We are making efforts to bring transparency, financial discipline and efficiency to the nation," says PM. ( ANI)
7.30 pm: PM Modi addresses NRIs living in Qatar.
5: 30 pm: PM Modi will meet the members of Indian community before he leaves for Geneva: MEA
From invstm'ts to skills, health to tourism, leaders witness signing of 7 agreements to strengthen >#IndiaQatar ties >pic.twitter.com/ZGS116SW4c— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) >June 5, 2016
3: 50 pm: PM Modi & Emir of Qatar witness signing of agreements in Doha
2.10 pm: Mr. Modi and Qatar leader Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani lead delegation level talks.
Advancing a multi-sectoral partnership.PM >@narendramodi and Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani lead deleg'n level talks >pic.twitter.com/Bze2gxghU0— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) >June 5, 2016
1.57 pm: Mr. Modi receives ceremonial honours at the Emiri Diwan in Doha
The full splendour of an Arab welcome as PM >@narendramodi receives ceremonial honours at Emiri Diwan in Doha >pic.twitter.com/wpGl0k404B— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) >June 5, 2016
12.58 pm: Also talked about the investment opportunities in India and why the world must come and @makeinindia, Mr. Modi tweets after meeting with businesspersons in Doha. >Read more
12. 32 pm: At Doha meeting, Mr. Modi identifies agro processing, railways & solar energy as very promising areas for Qatari investment.
PM >@narendramodi identifies agro processing, railways & solar energy as very promising areas for Qatari investment >pic.twitter.com/JASt28NIDm— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) >June 5, 2016
12.25 pm: Our projects for Smart Cities, metros, urban waste management etc are geared towards upgrading quality of life of people, Mr. Modi says.
12.23 pm: India's 800 million youth are its biggest strength. Infrastructure expansion & upgradation & manufacturing are my other priorities, Mr. Modi tells Qatari trade community.
12.18 pm: All of you recognize the potential of India. I will address the bottlenecks you have identified, Mir. Modi says
12.08 pm: India is a land of opportunity. I have come to personally invite you to take advantage of this opportunity, Mr. Modi says.
12.07 pm: Mr. Modi meets Qatari business leaders at a roundtable in Doha, praises role of Emir of Qatar in promoting India-Qatar business ties.
At the round-table with businesspersons from Qatar, discussed ways to enhance India-Qatar economic cooperation. >pic.twitter.com/CuR9GApugG— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) >June 5, 2016
10:41 a.m.: Mr. Modi will hold detailed talks today with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and address the business community of Qatar, a country which is India’s largest supplier of LNG requirements, accounting for 65 per cent of the country’s total imports last financial year.
(End of day 1)
Modi to raise labour issues with Qatar
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday night assured Indian workers in Qatar that he would take up problems faced by them during his talks with leaders of this Gulf nation.
Addressing Indian workers at a medical camp in downtown Doha, Mr. Modi said he was aware of the issues being faced by Indian workers and the companies that bring them here. Here are the > highlights of his address to Indian workers in Doha .
7.56 pm: Mr. Modi will hold detailed talks with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and address the business community of Qatar.
7.24 pm: Mr. Modi arrives in Doha on a two-day visit. Qatar’s Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani receives him at the Doha airport.
4.08 pm: Mr. Modi concludes Afghanistan visit. His next stop is Qatar.
Thank you Afghanistan. This brief visit will go a long way in further cementing India-Afghanistan friendship & benefit our citizens greatly.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) >June 4, 2016
3:11 pm: During Mr. Modi's Qatar visit, India and Qatar are expected to give a fresh push to their economic ties, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector. Mr. Modi will also address top business leaders of Qatar, a country which is India’s largest supplier of LNG requirements, accounting for 65 per cent of its total imports last financial year.
1:57 p.m.: Mr. Modi concludes with Herat Sufi poet Jami's words: Whatever happens, will always experience freshness and happiness of gentle breeze of friendship." >Read more
1:55 p.m.: Mr. Modi thanks Afghanistan for the honour, affection and friendship.
1:52 p.m.: Cricket diplomacy? Mr. Modi says, "We want to see ur democracy strike deep roots;ur people unite; your economy prosper, art & culture thrive; cricketers play Tests and the IPL.
1:51 p.m.: The friendship dam unites us in solidarity as Chishti Sharif joined us in spirit centuries ago, Mr. Modi says.
1:50 p.m.: Mr. Modi emphasises that Indian cooperation will extend to every part and benefit every section of the Afghan society.
1:42 p.m.: The dam will irrrigate land, light up homes: Modi. He says, "we are not just launching a project, we're reviving a region, renewing life,restoring hope and redefining Afghanistan’s future."
1:40 p.m.: Honoured to be among people who have set the standard of courage; Privileged to see again high tide of f'ship in vast ocean of love for India: Modi
1:40 p.m.: Thank you President for naming this dam as Afghan-India Friendship Dam. We are truly humbled by this generosity of the Afghan spirit: Modi
1:28 p.m.: Mr. Ghani says the dam will chart a new course of cooperation and prosperity.
1:20 p.m.: Afghan President Ghani says, "I present my profound gratitude to you, to compassionate people and competent govt. of India." He thanks the Indian govt. nd says a 40-year-old dream has been realised. "Today, with your help, an old dream of our people is realised after 40 years of waiting."
(Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani inaugurate the Afghan-India Friendship Dam in Herat on Saturday. Photo: PTI)
1:07 p.m.: PM Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to jointly inaugurate the Afghan-India Friendship Dam in Herat, shortly.
12:45 p.m.: PM Modi arrives in Herat, Afghanistan.
Top 10 things on the agenda:
|1||The Prime Minister will first travel to Afghanistan where he will inaugurate the Afghan-India Friendship Dam, earlier known as Salma Dam, in Herat province, along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Both the leaders will also hold talks on a range of issues.|
|2||Mr. Modi said he will exchange notes with “friend” Ghani on regional situation and “setting agenda” for bilateral cooperation in the coming period.|
|3||After Afghanistan, Mr. Modi will travel to energy-rich Qatar and from there he will leave for a two-day visit to Switzerland on Sunday.|
|4||About the Qatar visit, Mr. Modi had said, “This visit will nourish the historical bonds of friendship deeply rooted in people to people contacts, energy, trade and investment partnership.” The Prime Minister will also interact with business leaders in Qatar with an aim seek investment and realise the full potential of trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.|
|5||In Qatar, the Prime Minister will hold talks with his counterpart Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on a host of issues which may include trade and security.|
|6||About his visit to Switzerland, Mr. Modi described the country as India’s key partner in Europe. Asked at a press briefing on PM’s visit whether the issue of black money will be raised by Mr. Modi during his talks with Swiss leaders, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said both the countries are in touch on the issue. “We are in touch with the Swiss government under the DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement) mandate and we have had some discussions on this and we have a few planned in the near future. We have received support from the Swiss authorities on exchange of information on tax data between the two countries.|
|7||From Switzerland, the Prime Minister travels to Washington on June 6 where he will have a packed schedule including an address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. He will be the fifth Indian Prime Minister to do so. Mr. Modi is visiting the U.S. at the invitation of Mr. Obama.|
|8||Mr. Modi will begin his U.S. visit on June 6. He’ll pay tributes at the Arlington National Cemetery. He will then meet heads of a number of American think tanks and will attend an event to repatriate Indian antiquity by the U.S.|
|9||Mr. Modi will address the 40th AGM of the USIBC (US India Business Council) and meet US business leaders who he said have, over the past two years, “shown renewed confidence in India.” The Prime Minister said he will also interact with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, “many of whom have been valued friends of India and strong votaries of deepening India-USA ties.”|
|10||The Prime Minister will arrive in Mexico on June 8. He will have extensive talks with Mexican President Enrique Peieto on key bilateral issues including India’s membership in the NSG.|
(With inputs from PTI)
Our Diplomatic Affairs Editor Suhasini Haidar explains the significance of the tour