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Obama to meet Narendra Modi at Paris climate talks

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Washington: US President Barack Obama will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the first day of the Paris climate talks on Nov 30 to “generate momentum toward the successful outcome.”

Obama’s meetings with Indian, Chinese and French leaders were intended to “send a clear signal” that “he is going to be working with the key players to try to get this done,” White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said Tuesday.

Starting his day with a meeting with Xi, Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Modi after a lunch hosted by French President Francois Hollande for the leaders attending the Nov 30-Dec 11 UN climate summit attended by 140 nations.

“We’ve been engaging with India throughout the year in determining how they can contribute constructively to a successful outcome in Paris,” Rhodes said.

They did so first during Obama’s trip to India in January, then most recently, in a bilateral meeting in New York at the UN General Assembly as also in the discussions they had on the margins of the recent summits that he and Modi both attended, he said.

Obama’s meeting with XI “at the beginning of this process, as the two largest emitters, sends a strong message to the world about their shared commitment to combat climate change and to achieve an ambitious agreement,” Rhodes said.

Paul Bodnar, senior director for energy and climate change at the White House National Security Council, said Obama’s meetings with Xi and Modi are not meant to make announcements but to consult on key negotiations issues.

“The purpose of these meetings is to make sure that leaders are on the same page about our objectives and strategy going into these final two weeks of negotiation, not to make announcements, per se.”

“These two countries are two of our most important partners in dealing with global climate change,” Bodnar said noting Obama has had a number of engagements with the two leaders over the course of this year.

“We’ve built an important partnership with China over the last couple of years on climate, and the President has worked closely with Prime Minister Modi, as well,” he said.

“So the purpose of these meetings is not to make announcements, but to have a chance to consult, consider the issues that will be negotiated in those two weeks, and coordinate to ensure that we reach our goal of a successful agreement,” Bodnar said.

Rhodes noted that Obama has recently “talked to all of our key European allies about Paris. He’s talked to the leaders of not just China and India, but also South Africa and others about these efforts.”

“So part of this is also what are we doing on a bilateral basis with these countries, but also how can we make sure that everybody is conveying the same sense of urgency and sending the same messages to other parties of the negotiation that now is the time to make tough decisions and get things done.”

“It’s not simply a question of the United States coming to the table, it’s a question of whether China and India and Brazil and other major emitters are a part of this framework,” he said.

Bodnar said the fact that over 170 countries have put forward targets and strategies to curb their greenhouse gas emissions post-2020 shows “unprecedented progress” that will “significantly bend down the global emissions curve.”

(IANS)

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India, elections
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the 'Global Mobility Summit' in New Delhi, India, VOA

India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

India, elections
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Continues To Stay Mum On The #MeToo Movement. Wikimedia Commons

“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

India,India, elections
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents as he accuses Narendra Modi’s government of buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault at a highly inflated price, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
Modi Appeals For A Regional Front Against Terrorism, flickr

Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)