New York, Sep 29 (IANS) At the “Power Monday” meetings with leaders of the US, Britain and France that was dominated by climate issues, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared India was ready to play a leadership role in fighting climate change.
US President Barack Obama welcomed the offer and said: “I really believe that India’s leadership at this (Paris climate change) conference will set the tone not just for today but for decades to come.”
He said he was encouraged by “the aggressive nature” of Modi’s commitment to clean energy.
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron came to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel to meet Modi.
The meetings with Obama and President Francois Hollande of France took place at the UN headquarters. Microsoft founder Bill Gates dropped in on the meeting with Hollande.
Modi said India would release its commitments on contributions to climate change on Gandhi Jayanti (October 2), a day after the deadline for nations to submit them in preparation for the upcoming Paris conference on climate change, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
The day “adds a moral dimension” to the climate change agenda as Mahatma Gandhi was a champion of the environment.
Other topics that came up during the discussions held in separate meetings were combating terrorism and India’s quest for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Modi urged the three leaders to facilitate the speedy adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism, which has been blocked by some nations over the definition of terrorism.
After his meeting with Obama, Modi said: “We have resolved to further deepen cooperation on counter terrorism and radicalism.”
All the three leaders said they supported India getting a permanent seat in the Security Council.
Modi asked them to have the Security Council reform process completed within a “fixed time frame”.
India would like reforms during the current General Assembly session that ends next September.
On climate change, Modi made it clear to the three leaders that a negative approach of capping emissions or adding restrictions was not going to help, Swarup said.
Modi said that instead a positive approach that includes help for developing countries like financing and technology transfer was needed.
Modi said in his statement after meeting Obama: “President and I share an uncompromising commitment on climate change without affecting our ability to meet the development aspirations of humanity.”
During the three meetings, Modi mentioned India’s ambitious efforts on the climate change front like plans for adding 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022 and innovative programmes like solar panels over canals that would reduce evaporation while generating power and also obviate the need for acquiring land for the projects.
In meetings with both Cameron and Obama, joint efforts on cyber security came up for discussion.
New Delhi and Washington conduct a cyber security dialogue. Modi discussed cooperation on intelligence and cyber security with Cameron.
Asked at the briefing if Pakistan came up in the context of dealing with terrorism, Swarup said there were references to that country and it was recognised that all countries had to fight terrorism.
Answering a question if the Kashmir issue, which Pakistan has been raking up at the UN and in bilateral meetings, figured in the meetings that Modi had with the three leaders, Swarup said there was a broad acknowledgment that it was a bilateral issue and the three leaders would be happy to see India and Pakistan deal with it themselves.
Modi invited both France and Britain to “Make in India” by encouraging businesses to manufacture in India.
The stalled negotiations on European Union-India Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement was mentioned by Modi in his meeting with Hollande.
The EU stopping 700 drugs from India on the basis of a report by a single inspector was pointed out as one of the major stumbling blocks.
The broad agreement for India to buy Rafale fighter jets from France was going well, Swarup said.
In the hour-long meeting with Obama — their fifth meeting, including three bilateral summits, and two meetings on the sidelines of meetings in third countries — their personal chemistry was evident, starting with the warm hug at the start, Swarup said.
In the blue curtained conference room at the UN headquarters with two Indian and two American flags in the background, the Indian and American delegations sat on opposite sides of a long table.
Obama was accompanied by Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, UN Permanent Representative Samantha Power, US Trade Representative Michael Froman and Ambassador to India Richard Verma.
Those with Modi included Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, Joint Secretary (Americas) Vinay Kwatra and Ambassador Arun Singh.
Coming after last week’s India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, those subjects featured prominently in the meeting between Modi and Obama.
Obama said: “We also had a chance to talk about trade and investment, where our governments and business leaders met again last week to forge new partnerships to create jobs and opportunities for Indians and Americans.”
Obama said he welcomed Modi’s call to the large and successful Indian diaspora to contribute their talents to India’s progress.
The US and India are committed to a Bilateral Investment Treaty, Kwatra said.
Both countries have prepared model texts for the treaty and they have to be reconciled through negotiations for a final version.
On the defence front, India and the US were making good progress on an aircraft carrier technology agreement and will be identifying more such projects.
Kwatra said Obama and Modi looked at the convergence of Asia policies, with India’s Act East and America’s Pivot to Asia.
Modi asked US support for India’s membership in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group of 21 countries stretching form Asia to the Americas.
Answering a question if China figured in the talks, Kwatra said the focus for the region was on peace nd prosperity.
Modi and Obama also spoke about the joint $100 million project for developing technologies for climate change.