Obama, Indian leader visit MLK memorial

President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a break from their economic meetings Tuesday at the White House to tour the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall.

The quick jaunt came after an hours-long meeting in the Oval Office, with the president and prime minster taking a walk around the granite statue that peers over D.C.'s Tidal Basin.


White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the visit was intended as a gesture toward “the intellectual relationship” between Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi and the civil rights leader.

“They pursued, in trying to bring about a change in their countries, a similar commitment to nonviolence that I think Prime Minister Modi and certainly President Obama greatly admires,” Earnest said.

Obama said that in their meeting, the pair discussed ways to improve job training and education in both countries, as well as Modi's vision for addressing poverty in India.

“Throughout this conversation, I’ve been impressed with the prime minister’s interest in not only addressing the needs of the poorest of the poor in India and revitalizing the economy there, but also its determination to make sure that India is serving as a major power that can help bring about peace and security for the entire world,” Obama said.

The pair also discussed trade and “issues of making sure that maritime rules are observed,” Obama said, as well as joint efforts to confront violent extremism in the Middle East and aid the transition of power in Afghanistan.

“And we discussed how we can continue to work together on a whole host of issues, from space exploration and scientific endeavor to dealing with humanitarian crises like Ebola in West Africa,” Obama said.

Modi, for his part, said his visit to the U.S. had demonstrated America's “extraordinary interest and excitement about India and the India-U.S. partnership among the people of our two countries.”

“We will draw strength and inspiration from it as we start a more purposeful course in our ongoing journey,” Modi said, while extending an invitation to Obama and his family to take a reciprocal visit to India.