NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama today held talks on a range of crucial issues, including removing hurdles in operationalising the long-stalled civil nuclear agreement and enhancing ties in defence, trade and commerce and climate change.
Officials said “progress has been made” on the nuclear issue and India was looking forward to “effectively” work with the US in this “extremely important” field.
The Indian liability law holds the suppliers directly liable in case of a nuclear accident while countries like France and the US have asked India to follow global norms under which the primary liability is with the operator.
Since all nuclear power plants in the country are run by the state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, following the international norms will mean the government would have to pay the damages in case of an accident.
Making headway in civil nuclear cooperation, firming up a defence cooperation agreement and broadening ties in diverse areas including trade and investment are major focus of the deliberations, as both countries were working hard to have “excellent” outcomes from Obama’s visit.
Reflecting the importance India attaches to Obama’s three-day visit, Modi received Obama at the Palam airport, in a departure from protocol.
The American President is accompanied by his wife Michelle and a high-level delegation. Obama will be the first US President to grace the Republic Day parade tomorrow as the Chief Guest.
Earlier, he was given a ceremonial Guard of Honour and a 21-gun salute in the forecourt of the imposing Rashtrapati Bhavan from where he went to Rajghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi.
From Rajghat, Obama drove straight to the Hyderabad House where he and Modi held extensive talks on key issues.
The visit was described as “one of India’s most important diplomatic engagements in recent times” by officials here, who maintained that cooperation in key areas of defence, security, counter-terrorism and the situation in India’s extended neighbourhood would be among the major issues to be discussed between Obama and Modi.