Modi, Trump may have a bilateral meeting in Davos

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 10, 2018

A file picture of PM Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump during a meeting at the ASEAN Summit in Manila in November   -  JONATHAN ERNST

Economic, strategic issues likely to dominate talks

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump may be having a brief bilateral meeting at Davos on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2018 that is taking place from January 23-26.

As both leaders sprang a surprise on Tuesday by announcing their sudden visit to the resort town of Switzerland, officials on both sides have been asked to set up a meeting between the leaders.

Modi and Trump last met in November in Manila on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit even as they discussed defence and strategic issues that saw the revival of the Quadrilateral, a strategic and security grouping amongst US, India, Japan and Australia.

However, economic and trade ties have hit a rough patch since both leaders last met.

Modi is reaching Davos on January 22 and he is likely to meet the American President on January 23. He will be back in India on January 24 to welcome the 10 ASEAN heads of state.

In all likelihood, both leaders may be having a “pull-aside” on January 23.

This meeting between Modi and Trump will be taking place in the aftermath of the recent concern over mass deportation of around 7,50,000 H-1B visa holders. However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) later clarified that it not considering such a regulatory change.

But, the issue of H-1B continues to haunt India as it is the largest recipient of this visa. The Indian government is eager to have clarity on the issue, diplomatic sources told BusinessLine.

The meeting between both leaders is also taking place a month after India and America sparred at the Ministerial Conference of World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Buenos Aires over the issue of farm subsidies.

Strategic issues

Both leaders may also firm up the general agenda for the upcoming ‘2+2 Ministerial’ meet that is likely to be held in the next couple of months.

This will be a new dialogue mechanism focussed on strategic and defence issues that will be chaired by both the Ministers of External Affairs and Defence with their American counterparts.

Officials said this is an opportune moment for the meeting as the US has come down heavily on Pakistan by suspending $255 million military aid due to Islamabad’s lacklustre approach to counter-terrorism.

“Trump may once again raise the issue of Afghanistan during the meeting as the US wants India to play a better security role there and in the region at large,” said Nandan Unnikrishnan, Vice-President, ORF.

Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister in 21 years to be attend the annual jamboree at DavosFormer Prime Minister Deve Gowda attended the WEF in 1997.

Published on January 10, 2018

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