Trump, Modi to discuss defence, trade on sidelines of E. Asia summit

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018

A file picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump, at the White House. Trump will be pushing hard to sell F-16 fighter jets to India   -  PTI

Washington peeved with slow progress on $2-billion drones deal for Indian Navy

Billion-dollar defence deals and addressing the trade deficit will be topping US President Donald Trump’s agenda as he gears up for a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 13 on the sidelines of the East Asian Summit in Manila.

The meeting is taking place at the behest of the White House even as President Trump is embarking on his Asia tour in an effort to nudge his allies to build pressure against North Korea and its nuclear arsenal. This is Trump’s first Asia trip as US President.

Although Trump will be visiting China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam and Hawaii, he is not coming to India, which is why he is meeting Modi separately.

However, with Modi the US President has a different agenda. Both leaders will be meeting after a span of four months.

The Trump administration is believed to be upset with the “reluctance” of the Indian government in concluding the talks for buying 22 Sea Guardian drones, manufactured by General Atomics, for an estimated $2 billion for the Indian Navy, sources told BusinessLine.

The deal was announced by Trump after his meeting with Modi in June at the White House. This was done in recognition of India as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ by the US government.

Deal stuck

But since then there had been no progress in the deal, which has upset the US administration. Even during the successive visits to India first by US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the deal has not yet been concluded.

Apart from this, America is keenly watching the progress in the $25-billion single-engine fighter jet deal of the Indian Air Force. Trump is expected to aggressively push for the sale of F-16 fighter planes by Lockheed Martin for the deal, sources said.

According to sources, Trump is throwing his weight behind these deals as he sees them as an option to address the $30-billion trade deficit that US has with India.

The issue of trade deficit turned out to be a “significant issue” during the recently concluded US-India Trade Policy Forum that was held between US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Both leaders will also be discussing the upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) to be held from November 28-30, which will be attended by the US President’s daughter Ivanka Trump.

Published on November 03, 2017

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