WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama today backed India's bid for membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) amid a major push to the strategic ties between the two countries which finalised a "roadmap" to give India the status of US' close partner in the defence sector.
Obama, who held over hour-long talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, also promised to cooperate with India against terrorist threats from groups such as Pakistan-based Jaish-e Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba as well as 'D' Company, a reference to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
"In this context, they (the two leaders) directed their officials to identify specific new areas of collaboration at the next meeting of U.S.–India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group," said a Joint Statement issued after the talks.
Significantly, the American side also committed itself to treating Pathankot attack at par with 26/11 terror strike in terms of ensuring punishment to perpetrators based in Pakistan.
The two countries also decided to start work on construction of six American nuclear reactors in India amid affirmation that the Liability issue has been addressed.
Six pacts, including one on exchange of screening of terror information, besides two other documents were signed after the talks that mainly covered issues like terrorism, clean energy, climate change, defence, regional security, cyber security, economic ties and people-to-people contacts.
Addressing the media jointly with Modi at his Oval office, Obama said it was natural for India and the US, two biggest democracies, to "deepen and broaden" partnership.
Progress made in the Civil Nuclear agreement was among the issues discussed, Obama said.
"I indicated support to India being a part of NSG," the US President said in remarks which assume significance since China is opposing such a move.
Obama underlined that India needs technology, which is critical for its progress and prosperity.
The 50-point Joint Statement said, "President Obama welcomed India's application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and re-affirmed that India is ready for membership. The United States called on NSG Participating Governments to support India's application when it comes up at the NSG Plenary later this month.
"The United States also re-affirmed its support for India's early membership of the Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement."
Modi later said, "I am ever thankful for the help and support that my friend President Obama has extended with regard to membership in MTCR and NSG."