The Slatest

Obama Launches New Era of Cooperation With India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama walk through the gardens between official meetings at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Jan. 25, 2015.  

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were all buddy-buddy on Sunday as the U.S. president launched a three-day visit to New Delhi. Modi bear-hugged Obama as soon as he landed in New Delhi and made a point of calling the president Barack, as if the two were long-lost friends who were suddenly reuniting after a serious spat. “It was a remarkable spectacle,” notes Reuters, “given that a year ago Modi was persona non grata in Washington and was denied a visa to the United States.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) hugs U.S. President Barack Obama upon his arrival on Air Force One at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi on Jan. 25, 2015.  

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

After talks with Modi, Obama said the two had reached “a breakthrough understanding” that could end up unlocking billions of dollars in nuclear trade, which was a key goal of Obama’s trip to India. Modi also said India wants to expand the use of renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, representing “a shift in India’s tone on global warming,” notes Bloomberg. The two leaders also renewed a 10-year defense agreement. Still, it was hardly ideal. The New York Times explains:

The climate agreement included mostly minor initiatives compared with the deal Mr. Obama made with China last November, and it was unclear whether American companies would that agree the nuclear pact offered sufficient protection from potential liability in the case of mishaps to justify the investment.

Regardless, everyone makes sure to emphasize that the important thing here was the “atmosphere of amity,” as the Times puts it. “From the start, the day was more about putting their personal bond on display,” notes the Associated Press. “The chemistry that has brought Barack and me closer has also brought Washington and Delhi closer,” Modi said at one point. Despite all this positive talk though, Obama is cutting the trip slightly short to go to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to pay his respects to the royal family for the death of King Abdullah.