"We're going to do everything we can to help India down a cleaner path," Kim said.

"If we could build more bus rapid transit systems in India, if we could do many more thousands of kilometres of bus rapid transit systems, that would have a huge impact. They've already gone to natural gas-run buses that are much cleaner," said Kim who visited India early this year and met Narendra Modi in Delhi.

"So there are lots of things we can do. What Prime Minister Modi is looking for - and this is our responsibility to him - he said to me specifically, if you can find cleaner ways of accomplishing what I have to accomplish, and that is creating jobs for all these young people, all these people that are, you know, exiting schools and looking for work, if you can find that, I will choose it," he said.

Kim said he remained hopeful, but the overall discussion was a very complicated one.

"400 million people living on less than USD 1.25 a day that is also his (Modi) responsibility," he said.

The President said he has had quite a few meetings with Modi.

"Prime Minister Modi has told me that he has worked a lot in terms of increasing solar energy. So he's a great advocate of solar energy. And he did that when he was in Gujarat," he said.

"He has an enormous problem in the sense that he has to find ways of providing energy for, still, 400 million people in India who live on less than USD 1.25 a day, while at the same time having a positive impact," he added.

He said Modi had been clear and open to having discussions.

"But, of course, the first thing they will say is, you know, we need a chance to industrialise, we need a chance to create jobs, we need energy," Kim said.

"I'm hopeful in the sense that the leadership of China and the US I think was unexpected. And even at the G20 meeting, every single one of the leaders there knew that there was a reckoning coming, that they would have to state what they were going to do. And so we continue to work with them very closely," he said.

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