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Earlier, the White House said that the meeting of the two leaders – the first since Obama’s visit to India in 2010 – highlighted “India’s role in regional security and stability and provide an opportunity for the two leaders to chart a course toward enhanced trade, investment, and development cooperation”.
Ties between New Delhi and Islamabad, particularly in the wake of twin terrorist attacks in Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir which killed 10 Indian soldiers and police Thursday, weighed heavily on the bilateral talks in the Oval Office.
Obama offered his condolences to the families of those killed in the attacks and at the same time praised Singh for continuing to push for improving relations with Pakistan.
He told reporters following the bilateral meeting that both India and Pakistan would reap the benefits of a “peaceful reduction in tensions”.
The Indian Prime Minister was scheduled to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on Sunday. While some speculated that this was in doubt now, Singh indicated that he would not allow the terror attacks to derail the meeting.
Obama also expressed his confidence in India’s civilian nuclear programme, which Washington has aided in development since former US President George W. Bush signed a deal in 2008 for the two countries to cooperate on atomic power.
“We’ve made enormous progress on the issue of civilian nuclear power, and in fact, have been able to achieve just in the last few days an agreement on the first commercial agreement between a US company and India on civilian nuclear power,” Obama told the media following his meeting with Singh.
The two leaders also discussed improving defense and commercial ties, an impending bilateral investment treaty, and the crisis in Syria.
Singh, who is opposed to military intervention to end the Syrian civil war, praised Obama for working with the international community to give diplomacy the lead in finding a solution.
The Indian prime minister will address the UN General Assembly on Saturday and leave for New Delhi on Tuesday.