Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to meet President Trump, June 26th, on their first one on one meeting, in the nation’s capital. Bilateral relations have been on the upswing over the past decades and all eyes will be focused on how Trump’s ‘America First’ and Modi’s ‘Make in India’ policies determine the future ahead for the world’s largest democracies. There are many issues on which both leaders agree on: Defense and security, counter terrorism, energy and geopolitical strategy. Thornier issues include legal immigration, climate change and international trade. Both leaders are regarded as high, populist and pro-business and expectations are high regarding negotiations on trade and visas, arms, global and regional strategy etc.
The media savvy leaders exchanged warm greetings on twitter with President Trump tweeting “Look forward to welcoming India’s PM Modi to @Whitehouse on Monday. Important strategic issues to discuss with a true friend!” Prime Minister Modi replied, “Thank you @POTUS for the warm personal welcome. Greatly look forward to my meeting and discussions with you @realDonaldTrump.”
PM Modi, the first of world leaders to attend a working dinner with the Trump Administration at the White House, will also spend several hours with President Trump, in one on one and delegation level meetings. Modi will also meet with Vice President Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as Indian American think tanks, business leaders and pro-India lawmakers.
India is counting on big ticket defense deals to be approved including the sale of 22 Guardian (MQ-9) unarmed drones to India’s navy for maritime patrolling in the Indian ocean. Talks will also include a deal between Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems to produce F-16 fighter jets in India. India has a $24 billion trade surplus with the US and the Trump Administration is expected to scrutinize all deals regarding tariffs and localization, intellectual property and eliminating price controls on medical devices.
Counter terrorism and Pakistan will be on the agenda as President Trump shapes his South Asia policy. Military aid to Pakistan will be under tougher scrutiny though it is unlikely that the US would label Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. A joint statement and new initiatives on counter terrorism cooperation is expected to be released.
Sanjay Puri of the USINPAC has high hopes from this meeting, “This is an opportunity for both leaders to get to know each other. President Trump has met many of the leaders of the world except Mr. Modi, This is an opportunity for both to get to know each other and build a rapport. PM Modi and President Trump will negotiate the best deals to benefit each country’s economies through the right set of trade policies.”