HEADLINES:

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Full text: Modi's statement on Obama visit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the US President Barack Obama giving out statement 
during the joint press interaction in New Delhi 
[PHOTO: Special Arrangements] 
New Delhi: Full text of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement during the joint media interaction with US President Barack Obama:

“Mr. President and members of the media, 

It is a great pleasure and privilege to welcome back President Obama and the First Lady in India. 

Mr. President, we are honoured that you accepted our invitation to be the Chief Guest for our Republic Day and I know how busy you are. 

It is special because on this day we celebrate the values shared by the world's two largest democracies. 

You are also the first United States President to visit India twice in Office. 

It reflects the transformation in our relationship. It shows your deep personal commitment to this partnership. 

It tells us that our two nations are prepared to step forward firmly to accept the responsibility of this global partnership – for our two countries and for shaping the character of this century. 

The promise and potential of this relationship has never been in doubt. This is a natural global partnership. It has become even more relevant in the digital age. It is needed even more in our world of far-reaching changes and widespread turmoil. 

The success of this partnership is important for our progress and for advancing peace, stability and prosperity around the world. 

From the turn of this century, we have begun transforming our relationship. But, we have to convert a good start into lasting progress. 

This requires translating our vision into sustained action and concrete achievements. 

Mr. President, in the last few months, I see new excitement and confidence in this relationship. I see renewed energy in our engagement. I thank you for your leadership and for setting the tone last September, when I visited White House. 

The civil nuclear agreement was the centrepiece of our transformed relationship, which demonstrated new trust. It also created new economic opportunities and expanded our option for clean energy. In the course of the past four months, we have worked with a sense of purpose to move it forward. I am pleased that six years after we signed our bilateral agreement, we are moving towards commercial cooperation, consistent with our law, our international legal obligations, and technical and commercial viability. 

President Obama has also assured me of strong U.S. efforts in support of India's full membership of the four international export control regimes at the earliest. 

Today, we have also decided to take our growing defence cooperation to a new level. We have agreed, in principle, to pursue co-development and co-production of specific advanced defence projects. These will help upgrade our domestic defence industry; and expand the manufacturing sector in India. 

We will also explore cooperation in other areas of advanced defence technologies. 

We have renewed our Defence Framework Agreement. We will deepen our cooperation on maritime security. 

Terrorism remains a principal global threat. It is taking on a new character, even as existing challenges persist. We agreed that we need a comprehensive global strategy and approach to combat with it. There should be no distinction between terrorist groups. Every country must fulfil its commitments to eliminate terrorist safe havens and bring terrorists to justice. 

Our two countries will deepen our bilateral security cooperation against terrorist groups. And, we will further enhance our counter-terrorism capabilities, including in the area of technology. 

President Obama and I agree that a strong and growing economic relationship is vital for the success of our strategic partnership. Economic growth in our two countries is becoming stronger. Our business climate is improving. This gives me great optimism about our economic ties. 

In addition, we have established a number of effective bilateral mechanisms to identify opportunities and also help our businesses trade and invest more. 

We will also resume our dialogue on Bilateral Investment Treaty. We will also restart discussions on a Social Security Agreement that is so important for the hundreds of thousands of Indian professionals working in the United States. 

For President Obama and me, clean and renewable energy is a personal and national priority. We discussed our ambitious national efforts and goals to increase the use of clean and renewable energy. We also agreed to further enhance our excellent and innovative partnership in this area. I asked him to lead international efforts in making renewable energy more accessible and affordable to the world. President and I expressed hope for a successful Paris Conference on climate change this year. 

We will continue to deepen our collaboration in science, technology, innovation, agriculture, health, education and skills. These are central to the future of our two countries; and also give us an opportunity to help others around the world. 

Indeed, our strategic partnership will only be complete if we assume our responsibility to work together to promote development and connectivity in our vast region. President Obama and I agreed to pursue this goal with a sense of priority. 

President and I had an excellent discussion on global and regional issues. In particular, we renewed our commitment to deepen our cooperation to advance peace, stability, prosperity in Asia, Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, which is critical for the future of our two countries and the destiny of this world. We will also work closely to help Afghanistan through its transition. 

Our relationship stands at a new level today. We have outlined a broad vision for our friendship and cooperation that reflects the opportunities and challenges of this century. As Lord Buddha said, noble friends and companions are the whole of the holy life. 

We have decided to give this critical partnership a new thrust and sustained attention. For this, we have agreed that India and the United States must have regular summits at greater frequency. And, we will also establish hotlines between myself and Barack and our National Security Advisors. 

At the beginning of this year we start a new journey. 

Let me welcome you once again, Mr. President. It is a great pleasure to have you with us. 

Thank you.”
read more

Obama lays wreath at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial

US President Barack Obama laying wreath at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial
[PHOTO: Special Arrangements] 
New Delhi: US President Barack Obama on Sunday laid a wreath at Mahatma Gandhi's 'samadhi' (memorial) at Rajghat. He was accompanied by Union Minister Piyush Goyal.

The American President was presented a replica of Gandhi's famous 'charkha' by the officials of the memorial.

Obama arrived at Raj Ghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi, by laying a wreath at his memorial.

The US President planted a Peepal (Ficus Religiosa) sapling at Raj Ghat. 

The President who is on the three-day visit to India observed a moment of silence, and took a 'parikrama' around the memorial.

Obama had mentioned Gandhi on many occasions, even during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 2009.

Replying to a question on who would be his most favourite personality, dead or alive, to have dinner with, he had then said that would be Gandhi.

"He's somebody who I find a lot of inspiration in. He inspired Dr King (Martin Luther King Jr), so if it hadn't been for the non-violent movement in India, you might not have seen the same non-violent movement for civil rights here in the United States," he had said. 

Earlier, Modi received Obama and his wife on Sunday morning, at the New Delhi international airport. 

Read more : 

Obama receives Guard of Honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan - | http://goo.gl/wllcGp

Obama arrives in India, hugs PM Modi - | http://goo.gl/2GkBcl |
read more

LIVE: Obama receives Guard of Honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan

Obama inspecting Guard of Honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan
[PHOTO: Special Arrangements] 
New Delhi: Soon after his arrival and receving greetings from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi,  U.S. President Barack Obama received guard of Honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Live Updates:

12:25 PM: PM Modi meets US delegation at Rashtrapati Bhavan

Barack Obama being welcomed by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, PM Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan
[PHOTO: Special Arrangements] 
12:21 PM: Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes US President Barack Obama

12:20 PM: President Pranab mukherjee receives Barack Obama.

12:21 PM: US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet diplomats at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

12:18 PM: Obama, accompanied by a woman officer as guard commander, inspected the guard of honour.

12:16 PM: United States and Indian National Anthem were played as a part of Obama's welcome ceremony.

12:14 PM: Obama receives 21 gun salute as guard of honour. President Pranab Mukherjee welcomes Obama along with Modi and Vice President Hamid Ansari.

Obama receives Guard of Honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan
[PHOTO: Special Arrangements] 
12:11 PM: Obama arrives at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in his Presidential state car The Beast, escorted by Indian Mukherjee's horse-mounted guards. 

12:01 PM: Union Cabinet Ministers Manohar Parrikar, Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh join Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Obama's ceremonial welcome.

11:55 PM: Modi has arrived at Rashtrapati Bhavan to welcome Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

11:42 PM: Delhi is all prepared for the ceremonial welcome of the Obamas at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where he will be greeted with a guard of honour.

Modi on Sunday morning received Obama and his wife, who arrived at the New Delhi international airport for their three-day visit to the country.

The US President's flight Air Force One landed at the international airport in Palam at 9:40am on Sunday morning. From the airport, Obama's cavalcade has headed to Maurya Sheraton Hotel, where preparations for his welcome are underway amid high security.

On the first day of his second India visit, Obama will meet Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, who will be holding the ceremonial ceremony for the US President at Rashtrapati Bhavan at around 12pm.

After which Obama will head to Rajghat to lay a wreath at memorial to Mahatma Gandhi and plant sapling, according to External Affairs Ministry.

The US president will then meet PM Modi at Hyderabad House to discuss the bilateral issues. Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement, economic, regional and global issues, terrorism, and defence are the top agendas of their discussion.

Modi and Obama will jointly address a press conference at around 1:50pm after holding talks and the first day will conclude with banquet, hosted by Mukherjee, at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

On Monday (26 January), the US President will be attending the celebrations of India's 68th Republic Day as Chief Guest. He will also address a CEO Summit in the afternoon after which he will head to Maurya Hotel for a CEO roundtable. Later, he will also have a private dinner with Modi.

After a speech at New Delhi's Siri Fort on Tuesday afternoon, they will head to Saudi Arabia to condole the death of King Abdullah.
read more

World leaders in Riyadh pay tribute to late king

King Abdullah bin Abdul al-Saud
[FILE PHOTO]

Riyadh: World leaders have begun arriving in Saudi Arabia to offer condolences following the death of King Abdullah, with U.S. President Barack Obama cutting short a trip to India to pay his respects.

The White House said Obama had been scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal as part of his tour itinerary but cancelled that following the death of Abdullah and will now travel to Riyadh on January 27 to meet the new monarch, King Salman.

Other dignitaries arrived in Riyadh on January 24 to pay their respects, including Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Despite deep tensions and rivalries between the nations, Zarif was among the first to arrive in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, where he was greeted at the airport by the late king's son, Prince Turki, who is governor of Riyadh. Saudi state TV showed Zarif walking with the prince down a red carpet on the tarmac.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also landed in Saudi Arabia, accompanied by his predecessor, Hamid Karzai.

French and Ukrainian presidents Francois Hollande and Petro Poroshenko, and British Prime Minister David Cameron were among other leaders who flew in to offer condolences.

The kings of Sweden and Netherlands, Carl XVI Gustaf, and Willem-Alexander, and Britain's Prince Charles also arrived in Riyadh on January 24. 

Russia sent Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to represent it.

Abdullah was a cautious reformer who led the Gulf state through a turbulent decade in a region shaken by the Arab Spring uprisings and Islamic extremism.

He died on January 23 after being hospitalized with pneumonia. His exact age is not known, but he was believed to be around 90 years old. 

World leaders have praised the king as a key mediator between Muslims and the West, but campaigners criticized his rights record and urged Salman to do more to protect freedom of speech and women's rights.

Regional leaders including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, were among those who attended Abdullah's traditionally simple funeral at Riyadh's Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque on January 23.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived later on January 23 to deliver condolences, as did Iraqi President Fuad Masum.

US President Barack Obama who is on India trip will fly to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday (January 27) to pay his respect to King Abdullah following his demise. 

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
read more

Obama arrives in India, hugs PM Modi

 US President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama being warmly welcomed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
[PHOTO: Special Arrangements] 
New Delhi: US President Barack Obama has arrived in India on Sunday morning for a three-day state visit. His aircraft, Air Force One, landed at the Air Force Station at Palam airport in national capital amid unprecedented security arrangements.

PM Modi greeted President Obama with a hug and the leaders shook hands, before the US President and his wife got into their special car, called the Beast, that had driven up to the tarmac.

PM Modi greeted President Obama with a hug on his arrival
[PHOTO: Special Arrangements] 

The car has both the US and the Indian flags on it today.

Thousands of security personnel have been deployed in Delhi along with some 15,000 security cameras, roadblocks and protective sandbag walls.

Mr Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be the guest of honour at Monday's Republic Day celebrations.'

US President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama arrives at Palam Airport in New Delhi
[PHOTO: Special Arrangements] 



Later on Sunday, he will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and meet business leaders.

Barack Obama and the rest of them reach Hotel Maurya. The presidential couple will later head to the Rashtrapati Bhavan for a ceremonial reception at noon.Day One will see US President Barack Obama visit Rajghat and offer tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at his memorial.

PM Modi greets US President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama on their arrival 
[PHOTO: Special Arrangements] 

Later, Obama will hold a session with Indian authorities at Hyderabad House, followed by dinner at Rashtrapati Bhavan with President Pranab Mukherjee.

This trip will supposedly bring depth to the stagnant Indo-US relations. Also the US analysts are cautiously optimistic about India, US ties. Substantive outcome is expected out of this three-day state visit.
read more