Modi-Obama summit will be their third in a year

New York, Sep 28 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama will hold a summit meeting in New York on Monday – their third in a year – during which climate change and bilateral economic and defence ties are expected to figure high on the agenda.

The meeting comes days after the two sides held their first India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue here, headed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The Modi-Obama summit also comes days after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the White House that saw the US and China strive to smoothen ties amid anger in Washington over increasing cyber attacks on US government installations, that the US has blamed on China.

The US is also concerned over China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea.

US envoy to India Richard Verma, in a recent talk, acknowledged that, in India, the US has gained a “critically important strategic partner” of President Obama’s Rebalance to Asia policy. But he added that this growing bilateral strategic relationship is “definitively” not directed at the “elephant in the room” China.

In a pointer to the emphasis the US places on India as a rebalance to Asia, Verma also said he was “certain” that the US-India relationship would “serve as an important new buttress safeguarding open commerce and freedom of navigation in the Asia-Pacific region” – in a tacit reference to China’s fast increasing sway in the region.

In climate change, both sides are likely to announce some initiatives with the global climate change talks scheduled to be held in December in Paris.

Verma has said despite difficulties in aligning their approaches to the issue, both sides are aware that without US-India partnership no proposed solution can succeed on climate change.

Defence could also see some announcements. Ahead of Modi’s visit, India approved a multibillion-dollar plan to buy Boeing helicopters.

Earlier, this month the Modi cabinet approved a $2.5 billion deal to buy 37 military helicopters from US aviation company Boeing.

India is to buy 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinooks, placing the US as one of India’s top military suppliers.

In education too, things are on a promising note with the number of Indian students applying to study in the US this year going up by 40 percent over the past year to 130,000. Both sides are hoping to forge links between their institutions of higher learning.

Both sides are also cooperating in third countries. The two are engaging agricultural professionals from Kenya, Malawi and Liberia to improve food security in their countries by increasing crop yields using new technologies.

At the Sushma-Kerry dialogue, both sides agreed to step up cooperation in fighting terrorism, recognizing “the threat posed by Lashkar-e-Taiba and other groups operating from safe havens in our region and the need for Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks”.

The India-US trade has crossed $100 billion and the US is keen that it should go up to $500 billion.

Modi has held talks with top Fortune 500 companies and top US tech companies and urged them to invest in India.

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