PM discusses upcoming challenges with US thought leaders

Washington D.C.: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi finished his last engagement of the day, interaction with heads of the United States’ think tanks, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Arun Kumar Singh on Monday said the aim of the interaction was to understand from them how they see the global trends in the coming years.

“The aim of the interaction was to understand from them how they see the global trends in the coming years, the challenges and what the U.S. and India could work together, keeping in mind the templates that the Prime Minister has articulated is “what can the U.S. and India do together for the world and that was really the theme,” said Singh.

Divulging details about the think tanks, he said they were from Brookings, Council on Foreign Relations, Centre for American Progress, the Atlantic Council, Houston Institute, Central for National Interest, Global Energy Capital, Carnegie Endowment, the Asia Group, Pew Research Centre, the US Institute of Peace and the Foundation for Defence of Democracies.

“So, this is sort of think tanks representing whole spectrum of opinion here,” said Singh, adding, “So, it was in that framework that different current global issues were in a medium and longer term perspective, and we looked at opportunities and ways for us to be able to work together.”

In terms of the ceremony for return of a number of cultural artefacts, he said that was again very-very significant. “It is an effort that has been ongoing for some time. There are large numbers of cultural artefacts from India, who have been illegally taken to different parts of the world, and there is a certain numbers also in the United States. But, the governments in different countries, including the United States, have been working very-very actively with us to identify those and find the way to repatriate them to India,” said Singh.

“It’s an ongoing process, because sometimes processes have to be completed here in the United States before the repatriation can be carried out, the legal, judicial process and others. But for this particular ceremony 12 pieces were identified as being ready to be handed back to the government and people of India,” he said.

“These are significant as some of them date back to thousand years from the period of the Chola Dynasty, while some terracotta dates back more than 2,000 years. So, they were very significant items, and now they have been handed over to us, and of course they will now repatriate to India,” he added.

In terms of these ceremonies at Arlington, Singh said it was in broadly two parts. “First was wreath laying at the Memorial to the ‘Unknown Soldier’. U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter was also present. And then, the Prime Minister laid wreath at the memorial for those who were on the Columbia Shuttle, where an Indian-origin astronaut Kalpna Chawla was also involved,” he said.

“At the event, we had representatives from the family, some relatives of Kalpana Chawla, who were present. Then another Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams was also present on the occasion. And, some representatives from NASA were present, because again cooperation between India, the U.S. and space has been an important area of contribution,” he concluded.

On June 7 (Tuesday), Prime Minister Modi will meet President Barack Obama. He has a meeting followed by a lunch which President Obama is hosting for him. In the evening the Prime Minister would be meeting business leaders in the US and addressing the US-India Business Council. Between the two, between the President’s meeting and the business meeting at the end of the day, Defence Secretary Carter would be calling on the Prime Minister.

On June 8 (Wednesday), the forenoon is devoted to events in the U.S. Congress.

He would be going to the U.S. Congress, meeting the Speaker, the Congressional leadership.

And he would be delivering an address to the joint meeting of the US Congress. This would be followed by a lunch, which is hosted by the Speaker in honour of the Prime Minister, followed by a reception, which will be jointly done by the House and Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and the India Caucus and a brief community reception.

In the afternoon of the 8th, the Prime Minister would be flying off to Mexico City. (ANI)