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India’s leadership on climate change critical, says Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi embrace at the end of their meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama have renewed their resolve to together meet the twin challenges of terrorism and climate change, with the US saying India’s leadership on the issue was critical.

“As terrorism threats grow, we have resolved to deepen our cooperation,” Modi said at a joint briefing with Obama after an over-hour-long meeting, their fifth in a year, that began with the two leaders sharing a hug.

“The president and I share an uncompromising commitment on climate change without affecting our ability to meet the development aspirations of humanity,” he said.

Emphasising the growing closeness of the two countries, Obama also thanked Modi for his commitment to clean energy, according to a pool report.

“Much of our discussion today focused on the upcoming climate conference in Paris,” Obama said, adding, “We agree that this is a critical issue for the world, and all of us have responsibilities.

“We are encouraged by the aggressive nature of President (sic) Modi’s commitment to clean energy.”

“What I said is that I really believe that India’s leadership at this conference will set the tone not just for today but for decades to come.”

Modi was joined at the talks by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar.

The US delegation included Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, UN Ambassador Samantha Power, US Trade Representative Michael Froman and US Ambassador to India Richard Verma.

“We also had a chance to talk about trade and investment,” Obama said, adding that Modi hoped that Indian Americans can contribute to India’s growth.

Obama complimented Modi for abiding by democratic ideals that he “not only pays lip service to but acts on”.

“So we very much appreciate his friendship and his partnership,” Obama said.

Modi said the partnership with the US was important to the world and that the two could apply innovation and technology to combating the sustainable development goals, “including combating climate change and conserving nature”.

Modi mentioned his goal to build 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022 but to transition to a “development strategy to enable us to transition to a more sustainable energy mix”.

Modi thanked Obama for his positive response to a public and private partnership to help build more renewable energy sources.

He thanked Obama for an increasingly close defence cooperation between the two nations as well as for a successful cyber security dialogue.

“This meeting and my visit demonstrates the extraordinary diversity of our relationship,” Modi said, telling Obama “we value your friendship and the vision and commitment between our countries”.

“Our partnership is of great significance to the world,” Modi said thanking “Obama for answering my call on the global partnership for sustainable development”.

He also thanked Obama for supporting India’s permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

Modi said he had seen “the driving force of our relationship”, in Silicon Valley.

“Together we can do a lot for achieving the sustainable development goals,” he said noting, “we have both set ambitious national agendas”.

The meeting here came against the backdrop of the rockstar reception he received from the diaspora at San Jose reminiscent of the “Madison Square Garden moment” that preceded his first summit with Obama at the White House last year.

It also comes days after the first India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue in Washington that set the stage for Monday’s summit with a series of accords including a declaration acknowledging the threat from Pakistan-based terror outfits.