A week before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to travel to the US and meet President Donald Trump for their first bilateral meeting, officials on Saturday moderated the expectations from the meeting, saying that they are “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome. This will be Modi’s maiden visit under the new US administration, and the two leaders are expected to meet at the White House on June 26.
As of Saturday, an official said, the two sides are not expected to issue a joint communique, although a last-minute meeting of minds cannot be ruled out. “The visit is mostly getting to know each other. The visit will be recognised for broadening the understanding between the two leadership,” a source in the government said.
“No declaration is expected as yet… it is too early to expect a declaration,” the source said. “Their team of officials to conduct the negotiations is not place (yet) — it’s still a work in progress.” The source cited that the US has neither its WTO representative nor an ambassador to India in place.
Playing down suggestions of India raking up the Trump administration’s position threatening the H1B visa programme and Paris Climate Agreement, the source indicated that “irritants (such as H1B) are unlikely to be discussed”, and that India “won’t touch” the issue of Paris Climate Agreement during this visit.
“The US has taken a position on Paris Climate Agreement, calling for a revisit of the deal. It will be mature on part of India to recognise that this is no (bilateral) issue — we won’t touch it,” the source said, suggesting that “neither do global leaders expect it (from India)” to persuade Trump to revisit his stance on the Paris deal. The source indicated that broad framework of “trade access” could be discussed, as Trump is concerned about trade and its impact on the US economy, and trade access is also crucial for India.
South Block officials on Saturday said that “all issues of mutual interest are on the table”. The two sides are expected to have a frank discussion on issues confronting the two countries, they said. “There is no strict format for a bilateral meeting at that level. It will depend on the leaders based on the flow of conversation,” a source in the South Block said.
In the US, India Business Council (USIBC), the largest representative group of top American businesses having a footprint in India, said the H-1B visa programme is unlikely to be a thorny issue in the maiden meeting between Modi and Trump, PTI reported from Washington. “I believe the visit will yield a win-win formula for both countries. I am very optimistic that it will go very well when the Prime Minister comes here,” USIBC president Mukesh Aghi was quoted as saying.