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Modi-Trump Meet Today: A Look at the Five Talking Points

Indian and American officials are confident that the first bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday will take India-US ties to the next level.

News18.com

Updated:June 26, 2017, 12:59 PM IST
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Modi-Trump Meet Today: A Look at the Five Talking Points
PM Narendra Modi is the first world leader invited for a White House dinner with US President Donald Trump.
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New Delhi: Indian and American officials are confident that the first bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday will take India-US ties to the next level.

"We really think that this visit will leverage the relationship to a higher level," Indian Ambassador to the US, Navtej Sarna, told PTI.

Modi and Trump, who have earlier spoken three times over phone, would be together spending several hours at the White House, beginning a one-to-one meeting, followed by a delegation level talk, a cocktail reception and a working dinner, the first for a foreign leader inside the White House under the Trump administration.

"It would be historic, never seen before," a mid-level American source familiar with the preparations told PTI.

The two leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of issues during their White House interaction, including trade and counter-terror cooperation.

Here are the key talking points:

Terrorism
Regional security and India’s concerns over safe havens for terrorist groups in neighbouring Pakistan are likely to come up during discussions. Days before the meeting, a Reuters report said the Trump administration is seen hardening its approach on Pakistan. It said potential responses being discussed included expanding US drone strikes, redirecting or withholding some aid to Pakistan and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO ally.

Drone Deal and Defence
Ahead of Modi’s visit, the US cleared the sale of 22 predator Guardian drones to India, a force multiplier that will boost the Indian Navy's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The deal, which is subject to congressional approval, is estimated to be worth $2 to 3 billion. India does not have a formal alliance with the US, but defence ties have intensified in recent years with joint drills between the two militaries and defence sales. India, which has traditionally bought most of its defence equipment from Russia, is looking to upgrade its capabilities. Since 2008, India has signed more than $15 billion in US defence contracts, including for C-130J and C-17 transport aircraft, P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, Harpoon missiles and Apache and Chinook helicopters.

Climate Change
Differences have cropped up recently between the US and India with President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord and his accusation that India sought to “profit” from the agreement. Trump’s stand on climate change has also put space scientists in both countries on tenterhooks as the world’s most expensive earth-imaging satellite, jointly made by the NASA and the ISRO, is at stake. Can a middle ground be found or can the jointly-made satellite escape President Trump's anti-climate change gaze?

H-1B Visa
The Indian IT industry has been jolted by Trump’s proposed overhaul of H-1B visas, used by thousands of Indian software engineers to work in the United States. The issue was expected to have been discussed at Modi’s interaction with CEOs of top American companies, including Google and Apple. US-India Business Council (USIBC) president Mukesh Aghi, who was present at the meet, however, said it was not discussed. The H-1B visa issue is also not on agenda when Modi meets Trump but the Trump administration has said that if the Indian side raised the contentious visa issue, the Americans were ready to respond.

China and NSG
So far in his presidency, Donald Trump has focused on outreach to China, India's strategic rival, as he looks to Beijing to rein in North Korea. But Washington and New Delhi share concerns about China's rise as a military power. Beijing was also the object of Trump’s ire when he pulled out of the Paris accord. The Indian delegation is also expected to garner support for New Delhi’s entry into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group which Beijing opposes.

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