PM Modi is set to visit the United States later this month and will hold talks with President Donald Trump on June 26. Confirming the meeting, the White House said President Trump looks forward to meeting PM Modi.
United States President Donald Trump will host Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House on June 26 in Washington, DC, during the Modi’s state visit to the US.
The two leaders, who will be meeting for the first time, will hold talks on a number of issues, including terrorism and promoting economic growth. Possible changes in American rules on the H1-B visa, a top concern in India, is also an issue likely to be on the agenda of the Modi-Trump meet.
Confirming PM Modi’s visit to the US, which will begin on June 25, the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi on Monday said, “Their (Modi and Trump’s) discussions will provide a new direction for deeper bilateral engagement on issues of mutual interest and consolidation of multidimensional strategic partnership between India and the US.”
In Washington, DC, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump “looks forward” to the June 26 meet with Narendra Modi and said that the two leaders will discuss economic growth, the fight against terrorism, expanding defence cooperation and growing US-India trade.
“You can expect the two of them to set forth a vision that will expand the US-India partnership in an ambitious and worthy way,” Spicer added. “President Trump and Prime Minister Modi will look to outline a common vision for the US-India partnership that is worthy of their (combined) 1.6 billion citizens.”
“The president and the prime minister have had a number of positive phone conversations, and expect to further that discussion … whether it’s economic growth and reforms, fighting terrorism, expanding our cooperation as major defence partners,” Spicer said in response to a question.
“US energy and technologies, including natural gas, are helping to build Prime Minister Modi’s vision for a new India and creating thousands of US jobs in the process,” Spicer said.
Notably, the meet comes as the US, under Donald Trump, warms up to China, seeing Beijing as key to tackling regional issues such as North Korea’s pursuit for nuclear weapons. Former president Barack Obama, whom Modi met a record eight times, on the other hand, had seen India as a strategic partner to counter China’s growing influence in Asia.
Modi’s state visit to the United States comes against the backdrop of President Trump pulling his country out of the historic Paris Climate Accord. While announcing his decision to withdraw US from the Paris agreement, Trump had singled out India and China for being the ‘biggest polluters’.
President Trump also went on to suggest that India had made its participation to the Paris accord contingent to receiving “billions and billions” of dollars in foreign aid – a charge that was firmly rejected by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj recently.
“What Trump said is not the reality,” Swaraj said at a press conference last week, adding, “…for some to say that India has signed the agreement because of being pressured or because of greed for foreign aid…is completely baseless and unfortunate.
PM Narendra Modi, who recently came back to India after a four-nation Europe trip, too reiterated India’s commitment not only to abide by the Paris Climate Accord, but to go above and beyond in order to protect the environment.
“Paris Agreement reflects our duty towards protecting the Earth and our natural resources… We have natural resources because our previous generations protected these resources. We must do the same for our future,” Modi said, notably, in the very city where the landmark climate deal was signed in 2016.
H1-B, TERROR, PAKISTAN
During her press meet last week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said that Modi would raise India’s concerns about US plans to reduce the number of H-1B visa slots. The visas are mainly used by Indian IT workers to work in the US.
According to an analysis by the Pew Research Center, almost 1.8 million H-1B visas were distributed in fiscal years 2001 through 2015. From fiscal years 2001 to 2015, workers from India received the largest share (50.5 per cent) of all H-1B visas for first-time employment.
Regional security situation, including Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and other international issues, are also expected to figure prominently during the Modi-Trump meet at the White House.
US Defence Secretary James Mattis has already made it clear that his country recognises India as a major defence “partner partly out of respect” for New Delhi’s “indispensable role” in maintaining stability in the Indian Ocean region.
The US was exploring “new ways” to address new challenges as well from maritime security to the growing threat posed by the spread of terrorism in Southeast Asia, Mattis has said.
US National Security Adviser (NSA) Lieutenant General HR McMaster too had similarly reiterated India’s position as a “major defence partner” for the US during talks with Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.