Washington, DC – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama at the White House on September 27 for a working visit, the details of which are yet to be finalized, according to US officials.
After the US National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Tuesday (August 20) met her visiting Indian counterpart Shivshankar Menon, National Security Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said in a statement, “Noting our growing bilateral ties with India, Ambassador Rice said that the President was looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Singh to the White House on Friday, September 27.”
President Obama visited India in 2010 during his first term, announcing his administration’s strategy of cementing diplomatic ties after Singh paid a state visit to Washington in 2009, Obama’s first year in the White House.
On the upcoming visit, Hayden said, “It will highlight India’s role in regional security and stability and provide an opportunity for the two leaders to chart a course toward enhanced trade, investment, and development cooperation between the United States and India.”
During the meeting with Menon, Ambassador Rice reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to “further expanding and strengthening our bilateral relationship, including economic and commercial ties.” Hayden said, “The two exchanged ideas on enhancing our security cooperation, reviewed progress on our civil nuclear and clean energy cooperation, and explored greater collaboration on climate change,” adding that the two also discussed, “India’s continued support for a stable, secure, and prosperous Afghanistan.”
Later Menon, accompanied by the Indian Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao, addressed Washington, DC-based Indian media. He told journalists, “It’s a short working visit,” but stressed, “in terms of the substance, it’s going to be a good visit.” Although the logistics and agenda for the visit are being finalized, Menon called the strategic partnership between the two countries, “one of our most important relationships.”
Disclosing that “32 separate dialogues” are going on with the US, Menon stressed the “resilience” of the “multi-spectrum” relationship, concluding that he was leaving “confident” that the preparations for the meeting are on track. Menon applauded the efforts of Ambassador Rao in highlighting the Indian position on different subjects, including patent issues of pharmaceuticals and immigration woes of IT industries.
Before departing from Washington, DC, Menon on Tuesday evening also met US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Pentagon Press Secretary George Little confirmed, “This evening Secretary Hagel hosted Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon for a meeting at the Pentagon in preparation for Indian Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Washington this September.”
On the growing cooperation with the US in the field of defense, Menon noted that progress is being made to grow from a “buyer-seller” position to co-developing and co-producing various defense products. “During the PM’s visit we would certainly tell you how far we got and what we expect. It could be (path breaking),” Menon told the journalists.
Providing an update on the meeting, Little said in a statement, “Secretary Hagel emphasized the Department of Defense’s commitment to continuing progress on defense cooperation including in the areas of trade and regional security.”
“Secretary Hagel extends his condolences to the families of the sailors who died in the INS Sindhurakshak submarine accident last week,” Little concluded, mentioning the loss of lives when the Indian submarine caught fire after an explosion on board off the Mumbai docks recently.
After the bilateral summit with President Obama, Prime Minister Singh is slated to attend the UN General Assembly in New York. There is also speculation of a bilateral meeting between the Indian premier and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaj Sharif.