With world leaders knee-deep in the unfolding crises in the Middle East and Americans eyeing midterm elections at home, newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is using the margins of the U.N. General Assembly to make his first official visit to the United States. Prime Minister Modi will meet with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. He also delivered a speech to 19,000 people at Madison Square Garden last weekend.
It has already been and will continue to be an energetic, carefully watched visit, and though it will contain more symbolism than substance, it is vitally important to the future of Indian-U.S. ties. Critics have expressed concern about a host of issues they believe are holding back the relationship, including India’s close, historic military relationship with Russia; India’s protectionist barriers to foreign investment; and the United States’ cumbersome export-control policies. But progress has been made in all these areas. President Obama and Prime Minister Modi now have the opportunity to silence the echo chamber of skeptics by showing that they will take this partnership to the next level. The two leaders can do this with a long-term, substantive commitment instead of flashy, hollow announcements.
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