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Obama wishes Modi happy Diwali through newly-established hotline

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Washington: Calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi to wish him a happy Diwali, US President Barack Obama has reaffirmed the importance of the US-India partnership in addressing both regional and global issues.

A White House readout of the call on Tuesday said Obama spoke to Modi by phone “to review joint efforts on key areas of bilateral cooperation and to preview global issues ahead of the upcoming G-20 summit, East Asia Summit, and Paris Climate Conference.”

“Noting that the conversation represented the first use of the new secure line between the two leaders, President Obama wished the Prime Minister a happy Diwali and reaffirmed the importance of the US-India partnership in addressing both regional and global issues.”

“Both leaders shared their perspectives on developments in South Asia and discussed the progress they have made on shared economic and security priorities, including implementation of the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region and addressing the global challenge of climate change,” it added.

Earlier, in New Delhi, Modi tweeted after the call: “A short while ago @POTUS (President of the United States) called. We exchanged Diwali greetings. This was our first conversation through the newly-established hotline.”

“President Obama & I look forward to meeting in Turkey during the G20 Summit,” to be held on Nov 15-16, he said.

Modi said President Obama and he “discussed a wide range of other issues as well. It was good knowing how @WhiteHouse is marking Diwali.”

The G20 summit is being held after the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals agenda at the UN and ahead of the climate change summit in Paris on Nov 30-Dec 1.

(Arun Kumar, IANS)

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US investments and technology partnerships with India set to grow

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Washington: Ahead of Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit to the US, a key trade group has expressed confidence that as India continues reforms US investments and important technology partnerships with Indian industry will grow significantly.

Members of the US-India Business Council (USIBC) comprising 350 top-tier US and Indian companies hosted a Defence Policy Group (DPG) delegation from India ahead of Parrikar’s visit to the US in December. Senior Indian defence ministry officials are in the US for bilateral meetings with the US Department of Defence to discuss progress on joint initiatives such as the US-India Defense Policy Group (DPG) and Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).

Welcoming the delegation to Washington, USIBC President Dr Mukesh Aghi welcomed Government of India’s recent announcements allowing FDI up to 49 percent under the automatic route and beyond that with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s (FIPB) approval.

Former US Secretary of Defence, William S. Cohen, and board member of USIBC said he was encouraged by the unprecedented level of engagement between the two governments and the private sector in the area of defence.

“As the Government of India continues its reform effort and streamlines the defence procurement process, I am confident that US investments and important technology partnerships with Indian industry will grow significantly in support of India’s indigenization and national security goals,” he said.

Swami Iyer, Vice President, Honeywell Defense and Space, and Chair of USIBC’s Defence Executive Committee said: “With diligent collaboration, both government and industry can showcase Make in India and India’s improved ease of doing business in current and future defence procurements.”

“We believe continued success in US-India defence trade can be a great enabler for India’s economy and national security.”

The US-India bilateral defence relationship has grown in a robust manner from a mere $200 million in defence trade in 2000 to over $14 billion.

Boeing recently announced that it had won a $3 billion contract from the Indian Ministry of Defence for production, training and support of 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters.

The order includes options to further buy 11 Apache and 7 Chinook helicopters. These aircraft are being acquired by the Indian Government on Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) basis while their weapon systems like radars and missiles would be through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route from the US Government.

(Arun Kumar, IANS)