Indian PM Looks to Future of Alliance With U.S.

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday presented to Congress his vision of a U.S.-India partnership built on common values and democratic principles that he says is “primed for a momentous future.”
     Speaking before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday morning, the head of the world’s largest democracy praised the United States for its role in growing Indian prosperity while also laying out new goals for the two countries to strive towards, including combating climate change and locking down security in Asia.
     “The constraints of the past are behind us and foundations of the future are firmly in place,” Modi said.
     The prime minister is in Washington this week for his third summit with President Barack Obama. The two are discussing the “deepening strategic partnership” between the countries, with specific focus on trade, security and climate change, according to a White House joint statement.
     Relations between the United States and India have smoothed in recent years, which Modi said began when the United States agreed to a civil nuclear agreement with India in 2008.
     Modi repeated these themes throughout his roughly hour-long speech Wednesday, during which he pitched a strong India as good for U.S. security and business interests. He laid out his dream of an India where every village is connected to electricity and the Internet, and every person is economically empowered through “many social and economic transformations.”
     “Mr. Speaker, in every sector of India’s forward march, I see the U.S. as an indispensable partner,” Modi said.
     Other than the United States’ role in helping India in its goal for a massive economic transformation, Modi also directly addressed the threat of terror, which he called “a shadow that is spreading across the world.”
     He thanked the assembled lawmakers for sending a “clear message” to people who practice terrorism for “political gains,” and offered some criticism of 20th century institutions, which he said have been late to respond to modern emerging threats.
     “Refusing to reward them is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions,” Modi said. “The fight against terrorism has to be fought at many levels and the traditional tools of military intelligence or diplomacy alone will not be able win this fight.”
     He called for the two countries to work on a policy that goes after countries that harbor terrorists indiscriminately and one that “de-links” religion and terrorism.
     But Modi also cast the fight against climate change as important to protect vulnerable communities and nations around the globe. He called for an increased global reliance on renewable energy and praised the United States for supporting India’s efforts to create a solar alliance announced at the Paris climate summit last year.
     “We are working together not just for a better future for ourselves but for the whole world,” Modi said.
     Throughout the speech, Modi highlighted areas where the United States and India have influenced one another. He specifically pointed to Mahatma Gandhi’s inspiration of Martin Luther King Jr., and the role American universities have played in spurring India’s technological advancement.
     Modi said these common bonds make an alliance between the two countries natural and, while he conceded there might be occasional tension between them as the budding relationship grows, he was confident the partnership will be important as the world confronts new challenges.
     “And important for the success for this journey would be a need to view it with new eyes and new sensitivities,” Modi said. “When we do this, we will realize the full promise of this extraordinary relationship.”

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