President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Sunday they had made progress on nuclear energy and climate change negotiations during their talks in New Delhi.
On the nuclear front, Obama declared a “breakthrough understanding” at a joint appearance with Modi. The climate side is another story.
Securing Indian support to reduce emissions is seen as critical to combatting climate change given India’s population of 1.2 billion, the second most in the world, and rapid economic growth, both of which put heavy demands on the nation’s energy resources. Obama reached a landmark agreement with the world’s most populous nation, China, last year on capping climate related pollution. But India, which is increasingly reliant on emissions-heavy coal, has not agreed to far-reaching reductions in pollution. The White House instead announced on Sunday they had worked out more modest plans to boost investment in renewable energy, restrict hydroflurocarbons and continue negotiations at this year’s global climate conference in Paris.
“Perhaps no country could potentially be more affected by the impacts of climate change, and no country is going to be more important in moving forward a strong agreement than India,” Obama said.
The two leaders are also working on implementing a 2008 deal over nuclear energy investment after disagreements over tracking the material involved. According to the White House, the U.S. believes their disputes have been resolved.
“We are committed to moving towards full implementation and this is an important step that shows how we can work together to elevate our relationship,” Obama said, according to NBC News.
On Monday, Obama is set to make waves as the first U.S. chief guest at India’s Republic Day, a large military parade through New Delhi. It will be the first time a U.S. president will attend the event. The president is ending his India visit early to travel Tuesday to Saudi Arabia, where he will join in mourning King Abdullah, who died this week, and meet with the new King Salman.
“PM Modi caused great excitement in the U.S. when he visited and I do think that in addition to a personal friendship … we are also reflecting the warmth and affection between the Indian people and American people,” Obama said.
Obam and Modi sealed the presser with a handshake and a hug.