Modi, Trump meeting opens new chapter in India-US ties

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi   -  PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA

US President Donald Trump   -  AP

Startegic issues dominate talks between the two leaders

Bilateral ties between India and US are expected to undergo a paradigm shift both in strategic as well as economic terms as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump met extensively on Monday to discuss issues of mutual concern.

Both leaders got ample time to understand each other and discuss issues that are pertinent to the relationship over different formats, including a cocktail reception and a working dinner.

After meeting the US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex W Tillerson in the morning, Modi held a one-on-one meeting with Trump at the White House’s Oval Office, followed by a delegation-level meeting after which both leaders gave respective statements before heading for the cocktail reception and a working dinner. While it was widely expected that both leaders will focus largely on economic issues pertaining to trade and investments, the focal point of their conversation seems to have been combating terrorism in Afghanistan where the menace Taliban has again raised its ugly head where it was clear that US wanted India to play a larger role, sources told BusinessLine.

“The US agenda was definitely heavier on strategic issues, as was expected. Several long-term strategic goals have to be achieved,” a top official said.

Modi, as was expected, raised the issue of cross-border terrorism with President Trump but that did not find a mention in the joint statement. While the US side opted for a more nuanced approach with Pakistan, it urged India to revive talks with Pakistan, which are now stalled. US also sought to steer India’s focus towards the Middle East, which has taken a centrestage in Trump’s foreign policy. Middle East and the entire Gulf region is hugely significant for India as 80 per cent of its energy supplies come from there and any conflagration can prove to be disastrous, sources said.

China factor

Interestingly, it is learnt that President Trump and Modi discussed greater cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region with mutual concerns over China. While India was keen to understand US’ stand towards China and the role it intends to play there, US urged India to have a stand on the South China issue.

However, the main highlight of the visit was America’s recognition of the fact that India is its “main defence partner”, something that was ascertained during the previous Obama regime. Soon India will be seen buying 22 unarmed drones from US in a deal worth $2 billion.

Published on June 26, 2017

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