Outgoing US president Barack Obama urges Americans to still believe
US President Barack ObamaReuters

The United States President Barack Obama on Wednesday telephoned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and thanked him for his contribution in strengthening ties between India and America, the White House said.

Obama thanked PM Modi him for "his partnership" during their conversation. He also reviewed joint efforts of cooperation in the fields of defence, civil-nuclear energy, and enhanced people-to-people ties, according to the release.

Donald Trump's wax statue replaces Barack Obama's at Madame Taussauds

"Recalling his visit as Chief Guest at India's Republic Day celebrations in 2015, President Obama wished the Prime Minister warm congratulations ahead of India's upcoming 68th Republic Day anniversary," the White House statement said. "Both leaders discussed the progress they have made on shared economic and security priorities, including recognition of India as a Major Defense Partner of the United States and addressing the global challenge of climate change."

The relationship between Obama and Modi continued to grow after the latter came to power in India in 2014. The US president was among the first world leaders to congratulate Modi after he won the general election, and went on to meet each other eight times.

Obama's last press conference as US President

Obama also addressed his last press conference as US president on Wednesday, two days before Donald Trump is scheduled to assume office. Obama vowed to speak up if Trump threatened American core values and reassured the people of the United States saying "we'll be okay."

During his last public appearance before Trump's inauguration, the 55-year-old leader said that he would be stepping back from the political arena for a bit and devote his time to writing and his daughters.

"I want to do some writing, I want to be quiet a little bit and not hear myself talk so darn much. I want to spend precious time with my girls," he said.

Obama, during the conference, also fielded questions from the media on various topics, including the early release of WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning and progress on LGBT rights, to Israeli-Palestinian relations and Russian aggression.

"I think it is in America's interest and the world's interest that we have a constructive relationship with Russia," he said. "It's important just to remember that the reason sanctions have been put in place against Russia has to do with their actions in Ukraine," he added, stressing that as soon as Russia stops doing that, the sanctions will be removed.

When asked about Trump's promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem, Obama said, "I continue to be significantly worried about the Israeli-Palestinian issue... I think the status quo is unsustainable, that it is dangerous for Israel, that it is bad for Palestinians, it is bad for the region, and it is bad for America's national security."

The US president put up an optimistic front about Trump's tenure ahead. "Once he comes into office and he looks at the complexities of how to, in fact, provide health care for everybody -- something he says he wants to do -- or wants to make sure that he is encouraging job creation and wage growth in this country, that may lead him to some of the same conclusions that I arrived at once I got here," he said. "But I don't think we'll know until he has an actual chance to get sworn in and sit behind that desk."

Obama continued the assured tone to conclude the press conference, saying, "At my core, I think we're going to be okay. We just have to fight for it. We have to work for it, and not take it for granted."