|By Nilova Roy Chaudhury||January 2017|
New Delhi. While he was preparing to leave the White House, US President Barack Obama made a farewell phone call to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
During the “warm conversation” on January 18, details of which were divulged the day before he demitted office, President Obama thanked Mr Modi for his partnership. They reviewed joint efforts of cooperation, including in the areas of defense, civil nuclear energy, and enhanced people-to-people ties, the Press Secretary to the White House said in a statement.
The two leaders reviewed, with satisfaction, the significant all round progress and cooperation in ties between India and the United States in the recent past.
Mr Modi thanked President Obama for his “strong support and contribution to strengthening the strategic partnership” between the two countries, and wished Mr Obama well for all his future endeavours, an Indian government spokesman said.
“Recalling his visit as Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations in 2015, President Obama wished the Prime Minister warm congratulations ahead of India’s upcoming 68th Republic Day anniversary,” the statement said. Both leaders discussed the progress they have made on shared economic and security priorities, including recognition of India as a Major Defense Partner of the United States and addressing the global challenge of climate change,” the White House press secretary said.
President Obama and Prime Minister Modi met nine times at bilateral and multilateral forums since Mr Modi assumed office two and a half years ago, and established a warm personal rapport.
The American President also called Afghan president Ashraf Ghani January 18, ahead of his conversation with Prime Minister Modi.
Meanwhile, Richard Verma, outgoing US Ambassador to India, said he was leaving India deeply satisfied that the bilateral partnership was on a strong trajectory.
“I depart with deep satisfaction,” Mr Verma said. “We have quietly built a trusted partnership. It is a shared journey and we have a common destination; our partnership will benefit millions,” the Ambassador said in his final statement before boarding a flight back to Washington January 19, while he nostalgically recalled his Indian origins.
“India has shed the hesitation of history,” Mr Verma said. “Who would have predicted that India, the US and Japan would establish permanent military exercise, the Malabar exercises?”
“The 21st century belongs to Asia and we support India’s rise,” Mr Verma said. “India and the US are Asia-Pacific powers. We have changed each other in a small but important way.”
Verma said over 40 Obama administration leaders had established communication with their Indian counterparts, leading to 100 bilateral initiatives spanning the entire spectrum of bilateral relations.
India’s Ambassador to the US, Navtej Sarna, will represent India at the inauguration of Donald Trump, when he is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States January 20.
Speaking to India Strategic, a senior official said New Delhi was looking to the Trump presidency with a positive outlook.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s recent meeting with Mr Trump has particularly reassured the Indian government that the close and strong strategic partnership will “prosper under the new president,” the official said.