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Obama, Modi Pledge Expanded Cooperation

President Barack Obama and India's new prime minister, Narendra Modi, say they have agreed to "deepen" and "broaden" their two nations' partnership in areas of trade, security, science and technology.

Speaking after bilateral talks Tuesday at the White House, President Obama said he and Modi agreed a primary goal is to improve education and job training in both countries. He said Modi shared with him his vision for bettering the lives of what Obama described as "too many Indians" still "locked in poverty."

Prime Minister Modi said he is "confident" India will see rapid economic growth and transformation, and the U.S.-India economic partnership will also grow rapidly in the coming years. He said he sought Obama's support for "continued openness and ease of access for Indian service companies in the U.S. market."

The U.S. leader said he and Modi spent time discussing security issues, including the fight against Islamic State extremists in the Middle East. Modi said he and Obama agreed to intensify their counterterrorism and intelligence cooperation.

The two leaders also highlighted cooperation on the Ebola crisis, Afghanistan and space exploration.

Later Tuesday, Modi attended a lunch at the State Department with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden. Addressing the luncheon, Modi underscored the two countries' increasingly overlapping paths, noting "it's not that India and the U.S. have only met in Mars, now our meeting is on Earth."

Joint op-ed

In a Washington Post op-ed published before the meeting, the leaders said "it is time to set a new agenda" for the U.S.-India relationship.

Modi said he and Obama are also serious about resolving issues to enable civil nuclear energy cooperation.

He said they had a "candid discussion" about last year's ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization in Bali, stressing that India supports trade facilitation, but wants a solution to its food security concerns.

Washington has been concerned about India's failure to open its economy to more foreign investment.

"While India benefits from the growth generated by U.S. investment and technical partnerships," the two leaders wrote in the op-ed, "the United States benefits from a stronger, more prosperous India."

They also highlighted collaboration in work to empower women and build capacity and improve food security in Africa and Afghanistan, where the U.S. is winding down its combat role.

Modi's trip represents a marked turn from nearly a decade ago, when the U.S. rejected his visa request because of his alleged complicity in sectarian violence that left more than 1,000 Muslims dead in Gujarat state.

Watch video report from VOA's Zlatica Hoke:

India's PM Continues First US Visit
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