Narendra Modi in US, Day 2: PM dines with Donald Trump, discusses terrorism and trade

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapped up his two-day state visit to the US on Tuesday and departed for Amsterdam. US President Donald Trump hosted him at the White House where the two had detailed discussions on global issues and bilateral interests.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 27, 2017 8:23 pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting the President of United States of America (USA), Donald Trump and the first lady of USA, Melania Trump at White House, in Washington DC, USA on Tuesday. PTI Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapped up his two-day state visit to the US on Tuesday and departed for Amsterdam. US President Donald Trump hosted him at the White House where the two had detailed discussions on global issues and bilateral interests.

PM Modi met Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson before his meeting with Trump.

India’s External Affairs spokesman Gopal Baglay said at a press briefing that the discussions centred around the global situation, particularly focussing on Asia and the Indo-Pacific. He said that the prime minister told the Americans that “the fulcrum of India’s foreign policy is to have good relations with all countries, particularly with our neighbours”. Baglay said the discussions also focussed on terrorism, counter-terrorism cooperation and the direction in which the countries can take this cooperation forward. Tillerson said that both countries desired to strengthen their bilateral relations in the strategic and economic areas. Afghanistan also found place in the discussion and the role of both the countries in the region.

The MEA said said that the Trump administration was keen on building upon the progress achieved so far, specifically in strategic areas of counter-terrorism, cooperation in defence, Indian Ocean and science and technology.

One of the major takeaways was Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin being designated as a global terrorist by the US Department of State. MEA said that it proves India’s position on cross-border terrorism being behind the recent disturbances in Kashmir.

After the meeting of the Secretaries, President Trump and First Lady of the US Melania Trump received PM Modi at the White House’s South Portico — also known as the President’s Back Door and usually where the Presidents and First Ladies have been receiving visiting dignitaries.

Trump held a one-on-one meeting with PM Modi in the Oval Office that ran about 20 minutes. Later delegation level talks were held in the Cabinet Room.

PM Modi conversation with Trump was in Hindi where he said that the US has a great role to play in world affairs. He hailed the US as the oldest democracy and India as the biggest. Trump heaped praise on Modi after the meeting and him for his performance in handling the country’s economy. He also thanked India for ordering defence equipment from the US.

In a joint statement later, Trump said: “Proud to announce to the media and Indian people that PM Modi and I are leaders on social media, we are believers”. Trump said that he salutes PM Modi and the people of India for their accomplishments.

Highlighting the fact that India was the fastest growing economy in the world, Trump said that he looked forward to creating jobs for both the countries and working with PM Modi. He said that PM Modi has invited his daughter Ivanka to lead a delegation of entrepreneurs to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be held in India.

Trump asserted that both countries are struggling with terrorism and resolved to destroy radical Islamic terror. “During my campaign I pledged that if elected, India will have true friend in White House and that’s now exactly what you have, a true friend,” Trump said. He also appreciated the order of 100 new boeing aircraft placed by SpiceJet, which would create thousands of jobs in the US.

PM Modi, on his part, said, “Our talks are a significant moment in the cooperation between our nations. India and US are both global engines of growth. Eliminating terrorism is among the topmost priorities for both nations.”

PM Modi added that the countries will exchange information on countering terrorism and increase cooperation in this area. He said that destruction of terrorists and safe havens will be the targetted aim, adding that India will work closely the US on rebuilding Afghanistan.

PM Modi said that the countries will increase maritime cooperation; trade, commerce and investment are important areas. He said that the countries are also looking at technology, innovation and the knowledge economy.

Both the countries seek to increase engagement and cooperation in the energy sector which would possibly include a long-term contract for the purchase of natural gas, according to Trump.

On Modi, Trump said that they shared a wonderful working relationship but it’s never been better.

After finishing the meeting, Trump and Melania hosted PM Modi for a presidential dinner. This was the first working dinner at the White House that Trump has hosted for a foreign dignitary after he became President.

After the end to proceedings, PM Modi headed to the airport and departed for the Netherlands — the last stop of his three country tour.

At the end of his trip, PM Modi tweeted to Trump and Melania saying, “Thank you @POTUS and @FLOTUS for a most memorable visit to the @WhiteHouse. Was deeply touched by your warmth, energy and positivity, and also by your personal gestures.”

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