Barack Obama: ‘Told Narendra Modi India should not be split on sectarian lines’ Barack Obama said,

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“I think his (Modi’s) impulses are to recognise Indian unity. I think he firmly believes unity is necessary for the progress of the nation.”

Former U.S. President Barack Obama reacts during a Leadership Summit in Delhi, India, December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Nearly three years after he publicly asked India to guard against any efforts to divide its society, Barack Obama said on Friday that when he was US president he had told Prime Minister Narendra Modi “in person” that India must not be split into sectarian lines.

Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Obama also emphasised that India must cherish the fact that Muslims in the country clearly identify themselves as Indians.

“A country shouldn’t be divided into sectarian lines and that is something I have told Prime Minister Modi in person as well as to people in America,” he said.

The 44th US president, who visited India twice between 2009 and 2017 and was visiting for the first time since demitting office, said, “There’s a counter-narrative taking place, at all times, but it’s particularly pronounced now… in Europe, US and sometimes in India where those old tribal impulses reassert themselves under leaders who try to push back and under leaders who try to exploit them.”

He said, “I know Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes in the unity of India. My goal here is not to disclose every private conversation I have. I think his (Modi’s) impulses are to recognise Indian unity. I think he firmly believes unity is necessary for the progress of the nation.”

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets former US President Barack Obama, in New Delhi on Friday. PTI Photo/PIB (PTI12_1_2017_000128B)
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