Will trump keep his pledge?
US President Donald Trump was extremely positive when he came face to face with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for the first time on Monday in Washington DC, affirming the promise made during his campaign that, if he entered the White House it would lead to "true friendship" with India. At the same time New Delhi's concerns connected with the H1B visa which can adversely affect Indian techies working in America did not even come up for discussion. The matter has been passed over on the specious plea that this controversial issue is still undergoing scrutiny and review. Just hours before the Trump-Modi meeting, the US designated Hizbul Mujahideen chief, Syed Salahuddin, a global terrorist.
The meeting afforded the two leaders an opportunity to get to know each other even though they have spoken on the telephone on three occasions in the past. Nevertheless, they have set the tone for the future. Even as Trump makes no bones about his 'America First policy,' Modi swears by 'Make in India'. India has recently been named by the US as a major defence ally seeking to protect its 7,500 Km shoreline as Beijing expands its maritime trade routes and Chinese submarines are found to be lurking increasingly in regional waters. Both Trump and Modi have also been direct in trying to anchor the bilateral relationship having a common approach towards China.
They have also asked Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terror attacks against India. They wanted Pakistan to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot and other cross border terrorist attacks perpetrated by terrorist groups based in that country. Trump and Modi committed to further expanding and balancing the trade relationship, by removing obstacles to growth and job creation. The leaders called for a rational approach that balances environment and climate policy, global economic development, and energy security needs. Considering the growing strategic convergence, Trump pledged to deepen defense and security cooperation, building on the United States recognition of India as a major defense partner. The US and India look forward to working together on advanced defense equipment and technology, at a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.
Reflecting the partnership, the US has offered for India's consideration, the sale of Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial Systems, which would enhance India's capabilities and promote shared security interests. Resolving to expand maritime security cooperation, the leaders announced their intention to build on the implementation of their "White Shipping" data sharing arrangement enhancing collaboration on maritime domain awareness. Trump welcomed Modi's strong support for the United States to join as an Observer in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium. Noting the importance of the upcoming MALABAR naval exercise, the leaders are determined to enlarge their engagement on shared maritime objectives along with exploring new exercises.
Considering the growing strategic convergence, the President and the Prime Minister pledged to deepen defense and security cooperation, build on the United States' recognition of India as a major defense partner. The two countries look forward to working together on advanced defense equipment and technology, at a level commensurate with that of the closest allies and partners of the United States.They have also resolved to pursue increased commercial engagement in a manner that advances the principles of free and fair trade.
To this end the United States and India plan to undertake a comprehensive review of trade relations with the goal of expediting regulatory processes; ensuring that technology and innovation are appropriately fostered, valued, and protected; and increasing market access in areas such as agriculture, information technology, and manufactured goods and services. The display of warmth was partly aimed at President Xi Jinping of China who has disappointed Trump in recent weeks by failing to impose more pressure on neighbouring North Korea, to curb its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. Overall the visit afforded an opportunity to develop a rapport with not only the world's most powerful leader, but also to assess his mind on China, Afghanistan and Washington's role in the region as the only global super power. Most importantly the Indo-US relationship is certainly not floundering and is instead on an upswing as never before.
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