PM Modi meets Donald Trump: Trade, energy, terrorism — what unfolded during the White House talks

PM Narendra Modi and Donald Trump met for about four hours at the White House. We take a look at what the two leaders discussed and what it means for the region. Trade, terrorism and energy were the key issues discussed during the bilateral meeting.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 27, 2017 8:25 pm
Modi Trump meet, Narendra Modi, Donald Trump, Modi Trump meeting, Pakistan, North Korea, China, Indo US nuclear deal, World news, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump hug while making statements in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday. Associated Press

“A true friend” — that’s how President Donald Trump described India as he welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House, Monday evening. The two leaders spent a little over four hours — including Trump’s first working dinner with a Head of State — discussing a wide range of issues including trade and terrorism. Following their one-on-one meeting, the two leaders issued a joint press statement at the Rose Garden but, as decided earlier, did not take any questions from the media.

Here’s a quick look at what unfolded at the meeting between the two ‘social media leaders’ Modi-Trump:

How long did Trump and Modi meet for?

The two leaders spent a little less than five hours together — discussing a range of issues. The meeting began with a 20-minute one-on-one meeting between the two leaders followed by delegation-level talks between officials of the two nations. Modi and Trump then issued a joint statement at the Rose Garden. Following this, the two delegations took a 30-minute cocktail break — hosted by Vice President Mike Pence. They then once again sat down for a ‘working dinner’ — a first for the Trump administration — that lasted about an hour. The Indian delegation then left for their hotel.

What did the two leaders discuss during their meeting?

Trade and terrorism were the two key talking points of the meeting. But there was much more. In the joint statement issued, the two nations also discussed strengthening energy strategies. While there was no explicit mention of the Paris climate deal, the leaders called for a rational approach that balances environment and climate policy, global economic development, and energy security needs. A key issue for India that was not mentioned in the joint statement was that of H1-B visas. It wasn’t immediately known if the issue came up for discussion between Trump and Modi, or not.

Modi Trump meet Modi Trump meet: Prime Minister Modi and President Donald Trump arriving to deliver the Joint Press Statement, at White House, in Washington. PTI

On terrorism, the two nations reiterated their demand that Pakistan ensure its territory is not used to shield terrorists and launch terror attacks in the region. “Both our nations have been struck by the evils of terrorism, and we are both determined to destroy terrorist organisations and the radical ideology that drives them. We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism,” Trump said in his statement to the press. Modi, on his part, reiterated India’s concern regarding terrorism in the Indo-Pacific region. “Fighting terrorism and doing away with the safe shelters, sanctuaries, and safe havens will be an important part of our cooperation,” Modi said. The two nations, in the joint statement, also specifically mentioned instances of cross-border terrorism, calling on Pakistan to bring to justice “the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups.” You can read more, here.

On trade, Trump said he would like it to be ‘fair and reciprocal’, hoping that the trade deficit with India currently almost $31 billion will fall. “It is important that barriers be removed to the export of US goods into your markets, and that we reduce our trade deficit with your country,” Trump said. Trump also welcomed India’s Spicejet airlines order of about 205 aircraft from Boeing, worth up to $22 billion that the airliner co-founder Ajay Singh says will ensure up to 132,000 American jobs. The leaders were also hopeful that tax reforms launched by both the countries will “unlock immense economic opportunities”. Modi said India would continue to strengthen the already existing trade and manufacturing partnership the two nations share, something, Modi said, that was beneficial to both the nations.

Okay, what about the Indo-US nuclear deal?

The deal between India’s Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCI) and Westinghouse Electric Company featured in the talks between the two nations. Trump and Modi were hopeful that the deal for six nuclear reactors and the projects financing would soon be completed. India and US also announced that they would boost energy ties and expand innovation linkages across the sector while deepening cooperation on efficient fossil fuel technologies, smart grids and energy storage. Financing of energy projects — including clean coal — by Multilateral Development Banks was also discussed between the two delegations.

Did China come up in talks?

Not directly. The two leaders spoke of being responsible stewards in the Indo-Pacific region and agreed that a close partnership between them is central to peace and stability. In a veiled reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, that India has refused to be a part of, the statement mentions that the two leaders support “bolstering regional economic connectivity through the transparent development of infrastructure and the use of responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment; and call on other nations in the region to adhere to these principles.”

Modi Trump meet: President Donald Trump speaks during a dinner with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House. This is the first working dinner hosted by the Trump administration. Associated Press

Interestingly, when India announced it was not going to attend the BRI Summit, MEA Spokesperson Gopal Baglay had said the following: “Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities. Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The two leaders resolved to “increase cooperation, enhance diplomatic consultations, and increase tangible collaboration with partners in the Middle East”.

Modi and Trump also expressed concern regarding North Korea’s repeated continued provocations, emphasising that its “destabilising pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programs poses a grave threat to regional security and global peace”, and pledged to work together to counter the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction programs, “including by holding accountable all parties that support these programs” — again a veiled mention of China.

So what’s the significance of the meeting?

India, for one, wanted to revitalise its relationship back to what it was like under the Obama administration. This, after the Trump administration appeared to have courted China to have them act against US rival North Korea.

Trump’s statements on ‘territorial integrity’ and his administration’s outright condemnation of terrorism by Pakistan-backed organisations was something India was hopeful would come out of the meeting. Moreover, the United States also designated the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen leader Sayeed Salahudeen as a specially designated global terrorist, in what appears to be a big win for India in its fight against terrorism.

The two leaders also affirmed their support for the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, something the Obama administration was reluctant to endorse, according to Joshua White, a former White House and Pentagon official. White adds that the “new consultation mechanism” on terrorist listings would be beneficial to both nations and was overdue.

The US also reiterated its strong support for India’s early membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Australia Group. Trump also welcomed India’s formal entry into the International Expedited Traveler Initiative (Global Entry program) that facilitates closer business and educational ties between the citizens of India and the US.

Modi Trump meet: President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Modi head back to the Oval Office after delivering joint statements in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Reuters

The joint statement (which you can read here), however, stops short of mentioning a key issue that India has been discussing – that of employment in the US and the issuing of H1B visas.

On climate change, the statement on energy makes a mention of ‘clean coal’ but says nothing about the Paris climate deal. Trump, while pulling out of the accord, had then mentioned India as having received millions of dollars in aid. “India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries,” he had then said.

Indicating that both the leaders hope to do much work in boosting their respective economies through mutual partnerships, Modi said: “I am sure that the convergence of my vision for ‘New India’ and President Trump’s vision for making America great again will add new dimensions to our cooperation.”

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  1. S
    Jun 27, 2017 at 9:17 pm
    Modi goes globe-trotting every few weeks and the weak-minded media and bhakts lap up his selfie-like shows. He should realize that foreign business folk like his rolling out the red carpet for them, but other than that they and world leaders are laughing behind his back at his naive ways. They are disgusted with the miserable life of most Indians, their illiteracy and supers ions, the corruption and inefficiency of his Government, the filth and environmental degradation, the lack of dignity and self-respect, the communal virus and the caste system, and now the vigilante killings at will by saffron goons. Modi makes a big show and big claims but these are as hollow as the 56" chest. Does he not realize that there is work to be done in the country if at all he wants rather than going gallivanting around the countries of the world. But why should he care as long as he is supported by the RSS and the rabid dogs of Hindutva, and cash from the money bags like Ambani and Adani.
    1. A
      Jun 27, 2017 at 10:36 pm
      Sunder - what would you know about foreign policy, India's recent achievements and how it's positively perceived by many countries. Maybe you should focus on that instead of your oh-so-boring badmouthing of India. You congress bootlickers would rather read about scams that feeds your misery instead of something positive.
      1. S
        Jun 27, 2017 at 11:05 pm
        Foreign policy challenge - immediate action is needed by Mr 56" to clear the way for Indian yatris to Manasarovar. Where is your hero when his services are most needed in this country ?
    2. N
      Jun 27, 2017 at 8:18 pm
      There is the famous statement of Oliver Gold Smith about the man in the black,he loved the whole world ,and thought all the world loved him.Such are the assumptions of Modiji,The Republican Hindu Coalition is now enlarged to include Modiji,and the Supreme Court has banned the Moslems from entering the US, the broken arc is now a full circles.The common denominators between the two leaders are so much in focus,the international community must be very cautious and reticent in dealing with Modiji. The way his party and his ideological parivar treat minorities and NGOS and his handle for far right wing groups should make democracy at risk.The oppression of dalits and his ideological agenda to build a Hindu rastra are the concerns of the ordinary Indians.What the whiteman thinks about us of least importance,The b of nationalism touted by his yes ministers and party men are so great a threat to India and Indians,should not forget we are into the black days of emergency
      1. G
        George Cruz
        Jun 27, 2017 at 8:47 pm
        The BJP and the patriotic organizations like RSS/Hindutva are inclusive of everyone and they are not interested in putting labels like Hindu Rashtra or a Hindu coalition. The congress party is the one which is responsible for the hatred and the intolerance in India today because they demonized the larger Hindu population and favored the Muslims/Christians for vote bank for the last 65 years. The larger Hindu population now want to take the country back from the communists and the communal congress.
      2. T
        Jun 27, 2017 at 7:54 pm
        Trump is only interested in correcting America's trade deficits with India and Modi has readily indulged by buying drones and energy from the US.........Terrorism in India is not Trump's priority right now !!!
        1. G
          George Cruz
          Jun 27, 2017 at 6:42 pm
          A new era of cooperation between the US and India whether it be in fighting Islamic terrorism, or the US businesses readily willing to embrace Modi's "make in India" scheme which will create millions of jobs in India as as well as US and is beneficial to both the countries, or be it be a partner in the US initiative to fight the Chinese aggression in South China Sea, India under the leadership of BJP/Modi is ready and to take the country from the congress party's economic malaise as well as the communal politics which favored Muslims/Christians for vote bank politics.
          1. T
            Jun 27, 2017 at 7:50 pm
            Make in India will create more jobs .kab ? 🙈🙉🙊 it's already 3 years dude ... And was that buying drone come under make in India ..? Buying fighter plains too ? ... It' should be renamed as Order making in india .. Supply koi aur karega
            1. G
              George Cruz
              Jun 27, 2017 at 8:42 pm
              Modi has been in power just for 3 years and his novel "make in India" scheme is just 1 year old, and it is the just beginning and many US defense contractors like Boeing/Lockheed Martin have signed a total of 10 Billion dollars for manufacturing the US flagship fighter F-16 and many high tech drones to track/terminate Pak Islamic terrorists in Kashmir. It will take a year to fully implement the contracts. The communal congress party and the communists have been blocking every developmental proposal made by the BJP and have brought on the economic malaise for the last 65 years. The ex PM Manmohan in spite of degrees was total failure.
          2. I
            Jun 27, 2017 at 6:24 pm
            Modi is like give me me a big fat hug! Drumpf is holding back because he saves that kind of hug for his women and children.
            1. T
              Tallat mahmood
              Jun 27, 2017 at 5:31 pm
              Modi kee phee trump wants to avoid it. Modi kee hhee aisey hey jaisey baree mushkil se trump qaboo mein aya hey janey naa paey... aur trump soch raha hey ke mein to kambal ko chhorta laikin kambal mujey nahi chhorta lol
              1. S
                Jun 27, 2017 at 5:28 pm
                Overall, Indian PM's visit to the US was successful in what it was supposed to be - an ice-breaking-introducing-each-other meeting with Trump and his administration. Modi and Trump would have definitely left their own impressions with each other, and in this regard PM Modi, with his clarity of thoughts, impeccable delivery (although highly accented by American standards) and depth of knowledge of domestic and world affairs - I think would rate better than Trump. No problem with a hug... a true ice-breaker, gives a personal touch and is never out of fashion. Other than the Mr. Modi's personal charm, I think any other PM too could have achieved identical results from the first bi-lateral Indo-US summit which has primarily reflected the good work of Indian government officials rather than the PM alone. A great team.
                1. B
                  Jun 27, 2017 at 5:22 pm
                  Nothing is great. USA is country which use others and throw. It had finished its friends.
                  1. R
                    Raju Khan
                    Jun 27, 2017 at 7:45 pm
                    Correct! USA provide hollow support to its friend and stands it against enemy and then USA friends repents why did I trust Uncle SAM.
                    1. R
                      Rational Indian
                      Jun 27, 2017 at 9:23 pm
                      No body is a permanent friend or a foe in foreign diplomacy. Nation's interests matter the most. Indian foreign policy is on a sound footing by not aligning overtly with any one block. That will continue to fetch rewards to India. Modi has bought personal touch to the seemingly boring art of foreign relations to the benefit of the country. The fruits will be visible in near future.
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