Modi, Obama have forged close working relationship: think-tank

Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gone from somebody who was basically a “pariah” to someone who is now going to be celebrated, in the course of just two years, a top American think-tank has said ahead of his meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House next week.

“This would probably be the Prime Minister’s seventh meeting with the President since he took office which probably is a record both for Modi and for the President with respect to meeting a head of government from a country which is not a formal ally of the United States,” Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said yesterday.

“This speaks to the personal relationship that the two have developed over the last two years and also the surprising quality of it, given the history that Modi had with the United States,” Tellis told a group of White House reporters ahead of the Obama-Modi meeting next week on June 7 at the White House.

During his US visit, the Prime Minister would also address a joint meeting of the US Congress on June 8.

“The close personal relationship that has now developed between Modi and Obama is one of the surprises of the last two years,” Tellis said.

Echoing Tellis, Milan Vaishnav of Carnegie said the personal transformation that Modi has undergone is nothing short of remarkable.

“In the course of just two years, Modi has gone from just who could not step foot on American soil as a legal matter to addressing a joint meeting of the US Congress. He has gone from somebody who was basically a pariah to someone who is now going to be celebrated by Washington.

“Despite that President Obama and the US Government having zero relationship as a matter of stated US Government policy, it is fair to say that the two have forged a close working relationship. It is an achievement that should not be minimised. The two have forged a pretty close rapport and Modi has invested in broadening and deepening ties with the US,” Vaishnav said.

Giving “full marks” to the foreign policy success of the Prime Minister in the two years that he has been in power, Tellis said it is “really hard to identify any conspicuous failures” and oddly the two areas where he has fallen short is within the region Pakistan and Nepal.

“The broader foreign policy of India (under Modi) has been remarkable successful,” he said.

Modi has demonstrated, if not in words, but certainly by his actions that he is willing to take the relationship as far as he can take, Tellis said.

The India-US relationship, he noted, has a full agenda.

“Defence and defence cooperation is going to be the flagship deliverables coming out of this visit,” Tellis added.