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‘Red carpet’ welcome likely for PM Modi in Washington, Civil nuclear deal, terrorism on agenda

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have a one-on-one meeting on Monday from where they will move towards an hour-long bilateral meeting. Both will later make their press statements.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
June 24, 2017 2:09:20 pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets as he emplanes in New Delhi on Saturday for his visit to Portugal, USA and Netherlands . PTI Photo/PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to have his maiden meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington on Monday. In a Facebook post, the Prime Minister said he aims to formulate “wide and robust” relations between the two nations. “I look forward to building a forward looking vision for our partnership with the new Administration in the United States under President Trump,” he wrote.

According to reports, the White House will welcome the Prime Minister by “rolling out a red carpet”. PM Modi is scheduled to arrive in Washington at 6 am IST on Sunday after a stop over in Portugal. According to a senior White House official, PM Modi will be the first world leader to be hosted by President Trump for a working dinner at the White House.

“The White House is very interested in making this a special visit. We’re really seeking to roll out the red carpet. In fact, the two (leaders) will have dinner, a working dinner at the White House. This will be the first dinner for a foreign dignitary at the White House under this administration. So, we think that’s very significant,” the official told PTI.

The two leaders will have a one-on-one meeting on Monday from where they will move towards an hour-long bilateral meeting. Both will later make their press statements. After making their statements to the media, the leaders will move to a cocktail reception before finally ending the day with a working dinner. “So it’s a long interaction, lots of time for the two leaders to get to know each other, to interact on the critical issues that face our two countries,” the official told reporters.

PM Modi’s fourth visit to US is likely to focus on three major sectors: Defence, terrorism and energy. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Friday where Tillerson said that the visit would enhance the mutual interest of the two nations in fighting against terrorism and economic growth. The Prime Minister’s visit “will strengthen ties between the United States and India and advance our common interest in fighting terrorism, promoting economic growth and prosperity, and expanding security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region,” a State Department spokesperson told reporters.

“The US and India are both committed to combating all forms of terrorism and strengthening their cooperation in areas like terrorist screening, intelligence and information sharing, terrorists’ use of the Internet, and, of course, terrorist designations,” a White House official told reporters on Saturday. He noted that US supports India’s commitment towards development efforts in strife-torn Afghanistan. He added that India’s adoption of UN sanctions against North Korea has helped in sending a strong message to Kim Jong-Un’s regime. He said there can be some new initiatives on counter terrorism co-operation after the meeting.

Another point of discussion between the two leaders will be on the civil nuclear deal, the White House has confirmed. A senior administration official told reporters that the US is looking forward to US-built nuclear reactors contributing to India’s energy security. “We think that this civil nuclear partnership will bolster India’s energy security, create jobs and trade opportunities for the American people,” the official told PTI.

The US is also set to clear the sale of 22 predator Guardian drones to India, according to governmental sources cited by India. The deal, which was estimated to be around USD two to three billion, is described as a “game changer” for US-India relations by the sources.

The two leaders are bound to discuss matters related to climate change, but sources said the US will “seek common ground”. A major point of contention between the two countries, the H1-B visa policy is not expected to come up during the bilateral talks.

“On the (H-1B) visas issue, there’s no plans for that to come up specifically,” a senior administration official told reporters. He also added the US administration is ready to take the issue if India brought it on the table. “But if it’s raised, I would just note that the administration has signed some executive orders related to work and immigration, and President Trump’s executive order on H1-B visas of course directs the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security to propose potential reforms to the H1B visa program,” the official said.

Aside from the official engagements with the White House, PM Modi will hold meetings with a bunch of US CEOs and will address the Indian community in Virginia. The state visit will be tightly restricted to Washington and nearby areas this time.

(With inputs from PTI)

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