In low-key visit, Modi likely to meet Trump on June 27

NAYANIMA BASU New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018



H1B visa, defence purchase will top the agenda

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to hold his first meeting with US President Donald Trump on June 27, even as the government is still firming up the agenda covering visas, trade and security issues.

However, unlike earlier, Modi’s visit this time will be a low-key affair, devoid of any ‘rock-concert type’ shows, such as the September 2014 Madison Square event or the much-hyped address to a joint meeting of the US Congress in June 2016.

Evolving programme

“The Prime Minister will only be visiting Washington to meet President Trump, which is slated for June 27 as of now, as the programme is still evolving. Besides this, the Prime Minister will be addressing a couple of business meetings by USIBC (US-India Business Council) and CEOs’ forum,” a senior official involved in the arrangements told BusinessLine.

Sources said the decision to keep the visit minimalist has been taken keeping in mind the growing bitterness in ties — with the US coming down heavily on India on issues ranging from high import duty on the iconic American Harley-Davidson bikes to rising trade deficit and garnering funds for India’s climate change initiatives. With frequent visits by top officials to the US, New Delhi too has kept up pressure on Washington to not take drastic steps that might dent trade and economic ties. This is particularly due to the Trump administration’s repeated threats to tighten H1B visa norms.

Earlier this week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India is concerned over the rhetoric that’s going on in the US over H1B visas.

“But any amendments (on H1B visa regime) need Congressional approval, and I want to assure you that we are carefully following the developments,” she had said.

Modi has spoken to Trump over the phone thrice, while Swaraj has spoken to US Secretary of State Rex W Tillerson. Apart from this, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia have visited the US to understand its policy stance towards India. The US, on the other side, will be raising the issue of strengthening defence ties with India.

The Trump administration had been pushing India to procure more armaments from America.

In April, US National Security Adviser HR McMaster visited India and met Modi. He emphasised the importance of the US-India strategic relationship and reaffirmed India’s designation as a ‘Major Defense Partner.’

Defence pacts

The US might also push India to sign the remaining two defence pacts — Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement. India and the US had signed the first one, Logistics Support Agreement, albeit in a tweaked format called the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement.

Published on June 08, 2017

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