After establishing a personal rapport with President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described his five-day visit to the United States as “very successful and satisfactory” and wound it up with a “Thank You, America.”
He arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday night.
The two sides found commonalities on a range of issues including strategic partnership and trade.
In his talks with President Obama, the concerns of the private sector, particularly over the nuclear logjam, were brought up. The Indo-U.S. joint statement spoke of “advancing” the civil nuclear dialogue, mentioning by name two private companies, Westinghouse and GE-Hitachi, whose issues with implementation would be addressed.
In a speech to the private sector at the U.S. India Business Council, Mr. Modi promised to replace “red tape with a red carpet” for U.S. investors who have been shying away from India because of procedural hassles and bureaucratic delays. On Monday, Mr. Modi was briefed on the concerns of several multinationals at his high-powered breakfast with the top CEOs including those of Pepsico, GE, Boeing and IBM. “Come soon,” Mr. Modi exhorted the USIBC gathering. “Else the queue may be too long too soon.”
The only dollar-figure announcement made, in contrast to recent meetings with the leaders of Japan and China, came from the field of renewable energy, with the U.S. Exim Bank authorised to disburse $1 billion towards the purchase of clean energy technology, particularly for solar energy, which was welcomed by solar power major First Solar as a “win-win” initiative. Hope, with more realistic lowered expectations, seemed to mark the reaction to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Washington visit.
“Modi moves closer to U.S., but differences persist,” ran the headline of an article in The Wall Street Journal that front-paged a photograph of the Prime Minister the morning after his departure. Other papers reflected a similar attention, without the pictorial detail, marking that it came short of the expected outcomes.
The New York Times , for example, referred to it as “get-to-know-you visit … emerging with expressions of goodwill but little in the way of concrete deals.” All papers also remarked on the absence of any agreement from India to join the anti-ISIS coalition, but spoke of intelligence sharing and a “front to curb China’s aggression” in the South China Sea through maritime cooperation. Speaking after the USIBC event, former diplomat and analyst Ashley Tellis said, “What is important is whether the policies India and the U.S. now match the process they have outlined. The record so far does not inspire confidence.”
The most thoughtful moment of Mr. Modi’s visit packed with engagements came at the very end perhaps, as he and Mr. Obama visited the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington. Mr. Modi invoked Mahatma Gandhi repeatedly during this visit. According to one agency, the moment, especially when Mr. Modi rode with Mr. Obama in his car to the event, marked the “official clearing of the air” between the two countries after a year of bad relations.