Modi has set a different tone for bilateral ties: US officials

New Delhi/Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a different tone for the India-US ties as the two countries “articulated a different understanding” to break the logjam over civil nuclear deal, but companies need to assess their risks, US officials today said.

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said India and the US are moving past snags and toward a relationship in which they are stronger partners on the global stage.

“It was a different tone that has been set by Prime Minister Modi,” said Rhodes on the successful meeting between US President Barack Obama and Prime minister Modi in New Delhi today.

“He wants to take the relationship beyond some of the issues we have been hung up on…That’s our key takeaway here…We have opened up the door to do a lot more with India in the years to come,” said the presidential aide.

US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said on the civil nuclear deal “we think we came to an understanding of the liability” issue, and that it will operate “through a memorandum of law within the Indian system.”

Verma said the governments agreed but that it’s up to the companies to do their own risk assessment, and that it’s not something that would “require at this stage a legislative undertaking.”

“It is up to the companies what to do,” Verma said.

He said Obama and Modi “articulated a different understanding” of the relationship between the US and India, with the civil nuclear deal being an important part of it.

Since November, the contacts groups set in motion by Modi and Obama last September have been talking about the liability issue and also how to account for nuclear materials.

The US ambassador said the group met three times and came up with an understanding on both subjects.

He said the insurance pools will be part of the solution to the concerns about the liability issue and said that this is the understanding between the two governments.

The US has gotten reassurances that the way they interpret liability in a way that “comports with international understandings.”

Obama’s top advisor on climate change, John Podesta, said the two leaders opened up a “leader channel” on the Paris outcome, comparing it to the “open line” that, he says, the US President has with his Chinese counterpart on this issue.

They can call each other if there is “bumps in the road” working toward their shared goal, Podesta said.

He said they have “full commitment” of the Prime Minister to move forward on phasing down HFCs according to the Montreal Protocol.

While Obama linked climate change “to the development gap for India,” Modi said climate change was “an article of faith for him” and that he is “inspired” by Obama’s leadership on it, said Podesta said.