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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.
The success in recent state elections in India has bolstered the global profile of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with many world leaders, including US President Donald Trump congratulating the 66-year-old Indian leader. Mr Trump called up Mr Modi on March 27 and congratulated him on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s success in recent state elections, including the landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh, the Indian state whose population surpasses that of the combined population of Britain, France and Germany.
This was the third telephonic contact between the two leaders – the first two being soon after Trump’s US presidential poll victory in November last year and the second after his formal swearing-in in January this year.
Underlining India’s keenness to sustain the momentum in ties with the US built up during the presidency of George Bush and Barack Obama, India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval made back-to-back visits to Washington.
Mr Trump and Mr Modi had last spoken to each other in January when they discussed the security situation in South and Central Asia. India and the United States will “stand shoulder to shoulder” to fight global terrorism, the White House had said after that interaction.