Trump, Modi herald strong mutual links
Trade and defence topped the agenda of the leaders first meeting
1 July, 2017
Leaders of US and India, Donald Trump and Narendra Modi, praised themselves and India-US relations during theirs first meeting last Monday in Washington where trade and defence topped the agenda, news wires reported. While Modi sought to depict a more influential and prosperous India as a win-win solution for both countries, Trump said he looked forward to a fair and reciprocal economic and trade relationship aimed at driving job growth in both countries.
“The relationship between India and the United States has never been stronger, never been better,” Trump said alongside Modi in the Rose Garden in front of top US and Indian officials and the media. “I am thrilled to salute you, Prime Minister Modi, and the Indian people for all you are accomplishing together,” he added, praising India's economic growth.
Modi answered he wanted to bring the US-India “strategic partnership to new heights.” “We consider the US as our primary partner in India's socio-economic transformation in all of our flagship programs and schemes,” he said, referring to his “Make in India” initiative. “I'm sure that convergence between my vision for a new India and President Trump's vision for 'Making America Great Again' will add a new dimension to our cooperation,” Modi pointed out.
Trump said he wanted to open up the Indian market to US exports and reduce the trade deficit. He also said the US would export natural gas to India. Energy deals “are being negotiated and we will sign – trying to get the price up a little bit,” US president pointed out. He also thanked India for purchasing 100 planes from Boeing that would create thousands of jobs in the US.
The visit had been also billed as an opportunity to gauge whether the two leaders could develop a personal rapport, even if the outcome was short on substance. At one point, Modi pulled Trump in for a big hug and invited him to visit India. Neither leader spoke of two issues dividing the two countries, namely climate change and a US visa programme for high-tech immigrants that Trump would like to cut or reduce.
Beyond trade, defence cooperation and terrorism stood at the top of the agenda. The meeting came as the State Department approved the $365m sale of a C-17 military transport plane to India. The US is also set to approve a $2bn sale of unarmed drones to help in surveillance of the Indian Ocean. Modi said India would like to further enhance defence cooperation and defence technology sharing. The two leaders also appeared to share views on extremism and terrorism. “We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism,” Trump said, while Modi agreed.
Modi described his White House visit as being “filled with friendliness” from the “opening tweet to the end of our talks.” Trump also praised Modi to join him as “world leaders in social media.” While US president has 32.9 million followers on his personal Twitter account, Modi follows closely with 31 million.