It promises to be the big-ticket diplomatic meeting of the year for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The dates are not out yet, but the White House has already struck an upbeat note, saying US President Donald Trump looks forward to hosting the Indian leader.
“President Trump has said he looks forward to hosting Prime Minister Modi in Washington later this year,” a White House statement said on March 29, following a telephonic conversation initiated by Mr Trump the day before to congratulate Mr Modi on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s sweeping victory in elections to legislatures in four Indian states, including the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. “President Trump also expressed support for the Prime Minister’s economic reform agenda and emphasized his great respect for the people of India,” said the statement.
Although Mr Modi and Mr Trump may have a brief meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit of the world’s major and emerging economies in Germany in July this year, it will be the Indian prime minister’s first bilateral visit to the US after the change of guard in Washington in January this year. In the run up to that bilateral meeting, senior Indian and US officials have met since Mr Trump’s election. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met his American counterpart H R McMaster and Defence Secretary James Mattis in Washington last week.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Secretary of State Rex Tillersen had a telephonic conversation, and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar interacted with the top US diplomat during a visit to the US earlier in March. Mr Jaishankar, who was accompanied by Commerce Secretary Rita Teotia, also met Mr McMaster and Mr Trump’s top adviser on international economic affairs Kenneth Juster, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Secretary for Homeland Security John Kelly.
Despite some dissonance over the H-1B visa issue, Indian officials are quite optimistic about sustaining the momentum in India-US relations, which scaled new heights over the last decade.
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