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Trump to welcome India's prime minister to White House

26 June 2017, 09:03 | Gladys Abbott

Trump to welcome India's prime minister to White House

M Venkaiah Naidu Naidu UPA regime Narendra Modi USA Congress Manish Tewari Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu

Trump's other priorities, from Syria, China and Russian Federation to domestic issues including immigration, healthcare and investigations into his administration, have fuelled the impression among India-watchers that New Delhi is not on Trump's radar.

In advance of the meeting, the Trump administration approved India's purchase of almost two dozen unarmed surveillance drones. The deal is estimated to be worth about $2 billion.

Trump has focused on outreach to China, India's strategic rival, as he looks to Beijing to rein in North Korea.

On whether the contentious H-1B visa issue would come up for discussion during the meeting, a senior administration official said it was unlikely to be raised from the U.S. side but if raised by the Indian side, the Americans were ready for it.

"We are pleased that the U.S. government has cleared the way for the sale of the MQ-9B Guardian to the Indian government", Linden Blue, CEO of the manufacturer, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, said in a statement.

"We are already working together to address the existing and emerging strategic and security challenges that affect both our nations - in Afghanistan, West Asia, the large maritime space of the Indo-Pacific, the new and unanticipated threats in cyberspace".

A congressional staffer familiar with the matter confirmed the administration has approved the sale.

The US administration will also be looking forward to get a piece of the lucrative nuclear energy market in India.

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had earlier raised the H-1B visa issue with US Commerce Secretary during his visit to the US in April and discussed the contribution of skilled Indian professionals to the US economy.

Trump, who described Modi as a "true friend!" on Twitter after the Indian leader's weekend arrival in the United States, should find much in common with the Indian leader, with both men having won power by portraying themselves as establishment outsiders. The South Asian nation, which has traditionally bought most of its defense equipment from Russian Federation, is looking to upgrade its capabilities. How much up we go depends on the leaders.

There could still be pushback from Congress. After their media interaction, Trump joined by the First Lady would host the Prime Minister and the visiting Indian delegation for a dinner in the historic Blue Room of the White House. This will be the first meeting between the two leaders though they have spoken on telephone three times.

They share a populist streak and a knack for using social media, and are likely to find common ground on combating Islamic extremism.

Modi will be hoping that as well as tackling the Islamic State, Trump will step up pressure on militant groups based in Pakistan accused of launching attacks on India.

But there could be increased strains on trade issues.

The Trump-Modi meeting comes in the backdrop of the USA pulling out of the Paris climate accord and alleging that the deal was not tough on India and China.

Then Trump accused India of seeking to profit from the Paris climate accord as he announced the USA withdrawal from the deal this month - drawing sharp denials from Delhi. In making the announcement, the U.S. president said New Delhi had made its participation "contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid". India denies that and says it will continue to be part of the accord, regardless of USA participation.

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