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Obama announces nuclear 'breakthrough' on India trip

U.S. President Barak Obama and India''s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) wave towards the media during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.

In a glow of bonhomie, US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a breakthrough on nuclear trade today, a step that both sides hope will help establish an enduring strategic partnership.

Obama said the two countries had made progress on two issues holding up commercial civil nuclear cooperation, one of the major irritants in bilateral ties.

"We are committed to moving towards full implementation," Obama told a joint news conference with Modi in the Indian capital. "This is an important step that shows how we can work together to elevate our relationship."

The agreement resolved differences over the liability of suppliers to India in the event of a nuclear accident and US demands on tracking the whereabouts of material supplied to the country, US ambassador to India Richard Verma told reporters.

"Ultimately it's up to the companies to go forward, but the two governments came to an understanding," he added.

Signaling his determination to take ties to a higher level, Modi broke with protocol to meet and bear-hug Obama as he landed in New Delhi earlier in the day. It was a remarkable spectacle given that, just a year ago, Modi was persona non grata in Washington and denied a visa to the United States.

After a working lunch that included kebabs made with lotus stem, figs and spices, the two leaders got down to talks to finalize agreements on climate change, renewable energy, taxation and defense cooperation.

But Modi cautioned that work was still needed to create a solid partnership between the world's two largest democracies.

"We have to convert a good start into lasting progress. This requires translating our vision into sustained action and concrete achievements," he said, standing next to Obama.

Earlier, the two leaders walked and talked together in an elegant garden and sat outside over tea. Modi, who sold tea on a railway platform as a child, poured a cup for Obama.

Obama will be the first US president to attend India's Republic Day parade, an annual show of military might long associated with the anti-Americanism of the Cold War, and will host a radio show with Modi.

His presence at Monday's parade at Modi's personal invitation is the latest revival in a roller-coaster relationship between the two largest democracies that just a year ago was in tatters.

Armed police and soldiers lined the roads of New Delhi, where Obama was met with a guard of honor and a 21-gun salute in a formal ceremony at the presidential palace. Briefly, a stray dog ran around the forecourt of the palace in an otherwise highly choreographed event.

Up to 40,000 security personnel have been deployed for the visit and 15,000 new closed-circuit surveillance cameras have been installed in the capital, according to media reports.

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Tags:  Obama  Modi  India  nuclear  breakthrough  US  World  





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