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Trump, Modi to discuss trade, defence

Trump, Modi to discuss trade, defence

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump will hold talks on February 25 to deepen cooperation in a range of key sectors including defence and trade, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Wednesday.

Trump, who is scheduled to visit India on February 24 and 25, will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, Shringla said. India and the US have an unprecedented level of convergence, he said.

Shringla said the "Namaste Trump" event in Ahmedabad will be similar to the Howdy Modi event that was held in Houston last year.

Trump and Modi will hold extensive talks on February 25 on a range of issues, including defence and trade, he added. The US and India could sign a "trade package" during Trump's maiden visit, according to media reports.

Modi will host a lunch for Trump, while President Ram Nath Kovind will host a banquet in honour of the visiting dignitary, he said.

Sources said India and US do not want to rush in finalising a trade deal and both sides will take a decision on it considering a long-term view. Some defence deals may fructify during Trump's visit, the sources said.

However, the US President on Tuesday confirmed that the limited trade deal under negotiations with India will not be signed during his upcoming two-day visit.

"We can have a trade deal with India but I am really saving the big trade deal for later on. We are doing a very big trade deal with India. We will have it. I don't know whether we will have it before the election but we will have a very big deal with India," Trump said speaking to reporters.

"We are not treated very well by India but I happen to like Prime Minister Modi a lot and he told me seven million people between the airport and the event. So it's going to be very exciting," Trump added.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the point-person for trade negotiations with India, may not accompany Trump to India, sources said. However, officials have not ruled it out altogether.

Multiple rounds of talks have taken place between Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Lighthizer in the past few weeks over telephone.

India is demanding exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under their Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), greater market access for its products from sectors including agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.

On the other hand, the US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices, and cut on import duties on some ICT products. The US has also raised concerns over high trade deficit with India which was $16.9 billion in 2018-19.With agency inputs

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