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US President Trump thinks he can do business with India and PM Modi of India have more than one reason to smile

  • Trump wants to largely continue the "strategic partnership" and "Major Defense Partner" relationship with India
  • Both nations will work together to destroy terrorist organizations and the radical ideology that drives them.
  • Trump aimed to curb abuse of the H-1B visa program with the "Buy American and Hire American" executive order.

Modi-Trump summit: Hugs, business and support for India (Comment)

If hugs and handshakes are markers to personal and bilateral relationships, then the first get-to-know meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump seems to have been singularly successful.

The optics -- as seen on TV -- showed Trump proffering his hand of friendship to Modi -- he called him a "true friend" more than once in the course of the day -- after their meeting in the Oval Office, and then shaking his hand and hugging him at the end of their media appearance at the Rose Garden.

This was followed by more hugs and handshakes while seeing Modi off at the end of a four-hour interaction and working dinner, the first Trump has offered at the White House for a visiting leader since becoming President on January 20.

What is the takeaway for India -- and the region -- for this maiden Indo-US summit meeting in the Trump era? One, Trump wants to largely continue the "strategic partnership" and "Major Defense Partner" relationship with India that was begun by his Republican predecessor George W Bush and continued by Democrat Barack Obama; two, with sharp business instincts, with economy and jobs his primary motivation, Trump thinks he can do business with India.

He may have been especially buoyed with the $2-bn order for drones and what he called "(An) Indian airlines recent order of 100 new American planes, one of the largest orders of its kind, which will support thousands and thousands of American jobs" and the purchase of Westinghouse nuclear reactors. He wants India to import American natural gas and did not forget to add, like a true businessman, that the prices were being negotiated -- "trying to get the price up a little bit"!

And, if India is ready to do business with US -- something which China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, among others, have learnt to use to their advantage -- then the Trump administration is ready to accommodate Indian concerns and aspirations more than half way. India made a smart move -- China had also done so earlier -- by inviting Trump's eldest daughter Ivanka to lead the US delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India later this year. Ivanka has accepted to do so.

Trump has called the security partnership between the United States and India as "incredibly important" and said both nations will work together to destroy terrorist organizations and the radical ideology that drives them.

"We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism," Trump said forcefully, an affirmation that may not have been exactly music to Pakistani ears. "Our militaries are working every day to enhance cooperation between our military forces. And next month, they will join together with the Japanese navy to take place in the largest maritime exercise ever conducted in the vast Indian Ocean."

China had already sounded a veiled note of warning over the activity of "non-regional forces" and frowns upon the joint military activity of the kind that the US, Japan and India are going to undertake. China also does not like the formulation Indo-Pacific -- as opposed to neutral Asia-Pacific -- and would not be happy with the joint statement that talks about the "importance of respecting freedom of navigation, overflight, and commerce throughout the region" while calling upon "all nations to resolve territorial and maritime disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law."

Trump concluded by saying that "I truly believe our two countries can set an example for many other nations, make great strides in defeating common threats, and make great progress in unleashing amazing prosperity and growth." This was seen as not just standard officialese but, embellished with such Trumpesque epithets like 'amazing', carry the imprimatur of the President himself.

From a visit that had begun with "low expectations", given the unpredictability factor of the current President, the Indians have more than one reason to smile. They prepared well, read astutely the signals from the White House, especially issues and emotions that move and motivate Trump, and set the right frame for the meeting by making big-ticket business moves with the US that Trump could brag as job generating.

The US responded in equal measure by making the pre-summit announcement of naming Syed Salahuddin, chief of Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, as a "global terrorist" and putting counter-terrorism cooperation, including in Kashmir, at the nub of their bilateral relationship. This could not be good news to either Pakistan or the separatist elements in Kashmir.

Pakistan, especially, has been singled out for admonition with the joint statement calling on Pakistan "to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries" and also to "expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators" of terror attacks on Mumbai, Pathankot and others, putting the onus on cessation of terrorism squarely on the shoulders of Pakistan. .....By Tarun Basu 

Trump aimed to curb abuse of the H-1B visa program with the "Buy American and Hire American" executive order;

Trump called H-1Bs a "cheap labor program" that undercut American workers. "We increasingly view possible H-1B curbs as leverage for concessions from the Modi government, such as continued defense trade and cooperation and removal of restrictions on U.S. businesses," said Peter Cohn of Height Securities LLC. The White House discussed how the program could attract highly skilled workers without abuse by companies looking to underpay workers. The government sought input on running it more efficiently. 

President Trump and Prime Minister Modi of India in Joint Press Statement at White House on June 26, 2017

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  Prime Minister Modi, thank you for being here with us today.  It’s a great honor to welcome the leader of the world’s largest democracy to the White House.
I have always had a deep admiration for your country and for its people, and a profound appreciation for your rich culture, heritage and traditions.  This summer, India will celebrate the 70th anniversary of its independence, and on behalf of the United States, I want to congratulate the Indian people on this magnificent milestone in the life of your very, very incredible nation.

During my campaign, I pledged that if elected, India would have a true friend in the White House.  And that is now exactly what you have -- a true friend.  The friendship between the United States and India is built on shared values, including our shared commitment to democracy.  Not many people know it, but both American and the Indian constitutions begin with the same three very beautiful words:  We the people.

The Prime Minister and I both understand the crucial importance of those words, which helps to form the foundation of cooperation between our two countries.  Relations between countries are strongest when they are devoted to the interests of the people we serve.  And after our meetings today, I will say that the relationship between India and the United States has never been stronger, has never been better.

I’m proud to announce to the media, to the American people, and to the Indian people, that Prime Minister Modi and I are world leaders in social media -- (laughter) -- we’re believers -- giving the citizens of our countries the opportunity to hear directly from their elected officials, and for us to hear directly from them.  I guess it’s worked very well in both cases.

I am thrilled to salute you, Prime Minister Modi, and the Indian people for all that you are accomplishing together.  Your accomplishments have been vast.  India has the fastest growing economy in the world.  We hope we’re going to be catching you very soon in terms of percentage increase, I have to tell you that.  We’re working on it.  

In just two weeks, you will begin to implement the largest tax overhaul in your country’s history -- we’re doing that also, by the way -- creating great new opportunities for your citizens.  You have a big vision for improving infrastructure, and you are fighting government corruption, which is always a grave threat to democracy.

Together, our countries can help chart an optimistic path into the future, one that unleashes the power of new technology, new infrastructure, and the enthusiasm and excitement of very hardworking and very dynamic people.

I look forward to working with you, Mr. Prime Minister, to create jobs in our countries, to grow our economies, and to create a trading relationship that is fair and reciprocal.  It is important that barriers be removed to the export of U.S. goods into your markets, and that we reduce our trade deficit with your country.  

I was pleased to learn about an Indian Airlines recent order of 100 new American planes, one of the largest orders of its kind, which will support thousands and thousands of American jobs.  We’re also looking forward to exporting more American energy to India as your economy grows, including major long-term contracts to purchase American natural gas, which are right now being negotiated, and we will sign them.  Trying to get the price up a little bit.

To further our economic partnership, I’m excited to report that the Prime Minister has invited my daughter, Ivanka, to lead the U.S. delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India this fall.  And I believe she has accepted.  

Finally, the security partnership between the United States and India is incredibly important.  Both our nations have been struck by the evils of terrorism, and we are both determined to destroy terrorist organizations and the radical ideology that drives them.  We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism.  Our militaries are working every day to enhance cooperation between our military forces.  And next month, they will join together with the Japanese navy to take place in the largest maritime exercise ever conducted in the vast Indian Ocean.

I also thank the Indian people for their contributions to the effort in Afghanistan, and for joining us in applying new sanctions against the North Korean regime.  The North Korean regime is causing tremendous problems and is something that has to be dealt with, and probably dealt with rapidly.

Working together, I truly believe our two countries can set an example for many other nations, make great strides in defeating common threats, and make great progress in unleashing amazing prosperity and growth.

Prime Minister Modi, thank you again for joining me today, and for visiting our country and our wonderful White House and Oval Office.  I enjoyed our very productive conversation this afternoon, and look forward to its continuation tonight at dinner.  The future of our partnership has never looked brighter.  India and the United States will always be tied together in friendship and respect.
Prime Minister Modi, thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  

PRIME MINISTER MODI:  (As interpreted.)  President Donald Trump and First Lady, Vice President, ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen of the media:  Right from the opening tweet to the end of our talks, President Trump's welcome, which was filled with friendliness, his warm welcome to the White House by himself and the First Lady, I would like to thank both of you from the bottom of my heart for this warm welcome.

 I would also like to give a special thanks to you, President Trump, for having spent so much time with me, for having spoken such kind words about me and my country.  And I would like to tell you that I'm eager to welcome your daughter to India for the Entrepreneurship Summit.  

President Trump, I'd once again like to thank you for the time that you have spent with me.  I'd like to give you special thanks for that.

     My visit and our talks today will mark a very important page in the history of the collaboration and cooperation between our two nations.  The talks between his Excellency, President Trump, and myself today have been extremely important from all points of view, for several reasons:  Because they were based on mutual trust; because of the convergence and similarities they revealed in our values, and our priorities, and in our concerns and interests; because they focused on the highest levels of achievement in our cooperation, and mutual support, and partnership; because our two countries are global engines of growth; because the all-around or comprehensive economic growth and joint progress of both countries and both societies is the main objective for both the President and myself, and will remain so; because the top priority for both President Trump and myself is to protect our society from global challenges like terrorism; and because our aim is the strengthening of India and the USA -- two great democracies in the world -- friends.

     Our robust strategic partnership is such that it touches upon almost all areas of human endeavor.  In our conversation today, President Trump and I have discussed all dimensions of India-U.S. relations at length.  Both nations are committed to a bilateral architecture that will take our strategic partnership to new heights.

     In this relationship, in both countries, increased productivity, growth, job creation, and breakthrough technologies -- an engagement towards all these are, and will remain, strong drivers of our cooperation, and will give further momentum to our relationship.
     We consider the USA as our primary partner for India's social and economic transformation in all our flagship programs and schemes.  I am sure that the convergence between my vision for a "new India and President Trump's vision for "making America great again" will add new dimensions to our cooperation.

     I am very clear about the fact that India's interests lie in a strong, and prosperous, and successful America.  In the same way, India's development and its growing role at the international level are in the USA's interest.  
One of our common priorities will be the development of trade, commerce, and investment links.  And in this regard, in the technology, innovation, and knowledge-economy sectors, the expansion and deepening of cooperation is also among our priorities.  Towards this end, we shall take steps to further strengthen our successful digital partnership.  

Friends, we are not just partners by chance.  We are also partners in dealing with current and future challenges that we may be faced with.  Today, during our meeting, we discussed the serious challenges of terrorism, extremism, and radicalization, which are the major challenges facing the world today.  And we have agreed to enhance our cooperation in fighting against these scourges.  Fighting terrorism and doing away with the safe shelters, sanctuaries, and safe havens will be an important part of our cooperation.
With respect to our common concerns on terrorism, we will also enhance our sharing of intelligence, and exchange information to deepen and expand our policy coordination as far as possible.  

We also spoke at length on regional issues.  The increasing instability, due to terrorism, in Afghanistan is one of our common concerns.  Both India and America have played an important role in rebuilding Afghanistan and ensuring its security.  In order to attain our objectives for peace and stability in Afghanistan, we will maintain close consultation and communication with the U.S. to enhance coordination between our two nations.

In the Indo-Pacific region, in order to maintain peace, stability, and prosperity in the region, this is also another objective of our strategic cooperation in this area.  The increasing possibilities for enhancing cooperation in order to protect our strategic interests will continue to determine the dimensions of our partnership.  We will continue to work with the USA in this region.
With regard to security-related challenges, our enhanced and growing defense and security cooperation is extremely important.  We have spoken at length on this subject as well.  

The strengthening of India’s defense capabilities, with the help of USA, is something that we truly appreciate.  We have also decided to enhance maritime security cooperation between the two nations.  President Trump and I have also spoken about strengthening bilateral defense technology and our trade and manufacturing partnership, which we believe will be mutually beneficial to us.

We also discussed international issues and our common strategic interests.  In this context, we are extremely grateful for the continued support of the United States for India’s membership of international institutions and regimes.  We truly appreciate the support, because this is also in the interest of both our nations.

President Trump, I thank you for your feelings of friendship towards India and myself.  I deeply appreciate your strong commitment to the enhancement of our bilateral relations.  I am sure that under your leadership, our mutually beneficial strategic partnership will gain new strength, new positivity, and will reach new heights, and that your vast and successful experience in the business world will lend an aggressive and forward-looking agenda to our relations.  

In this journey of India-America relations, I think I would like to thank you for providing great leadership.  Be assured that in this joint journey of our two nations towards development, growth and prosperity, I will remain a driven, determined, and decisive partner. 

Excellency, my visit today and the extensive talks I have held with you have been very successful, very fruitful.  And before leaving this mic, I would like to invite you to India, along with your family.  And I hope that you will give me the opportunity to welcome you and host you in India.  

And at the end, once again, I’d like to thank you for the warm welcome extended by you and the First Lady to myself and my delegation, from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you.  (Applause.)   

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much, everybody.  I appreciate it.  Thank you.

Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Modi of India Before a Dinner Reception at White House on June 26, 2017, 6:29 P.M

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  Mr. Prime Minister, we’ll do the toasts as soon as the media leaves.  (Laughter.)  We’re going to have a very special toast, a very intimate toast.  (Laughter.) 
But again, I want to thank you and all of your representatives.  It is such an honor to have you at the White House and in Washington.  And we have had tremendous meetings today, tremendous success, and we enjoy a wonderful relationship, but it’s never been better than it is today.  And again, any time you’d like, we want to have you back as soon as possible.  Thank you very much for being here.

PRIME MINISTER MODI:  (As interpreted.)  Well, Mr. President, let me express my gratitude for this invitation that was extended to me.  It is true that I have spent a very short time over here, but really, I have felt so much at home during this stay in the United States.  

And I am indeed also very grateful to the First Lady.  She has organized this reception in my honor, and this honors not just me, but 1.25 billion people of India.  So, once again, let me thank you and express my gratitude.  

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  You know, the Prime Minister was going to come here at a different time, but we worked out this time because they had elections in a section of India.  And it’s just a small section, but we said, it’s the seventh largest country in the world, that small section of India.  (Laughter.)  So I said, you know what, this is a better day.  (Laughter.)  But it is great to have you.  

Thank you very much.  Thank you all for being here.  Thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER MODI:  (As interpreted.)  And to add icing to the cake is that in those elections, our party won.
PRIME MINISTER MODI:  And after many years, we’ve got three-fourth majority in the state assembly.
PRESIDENT TRUMP:  That’s fantastic.  That’s a good win indeed.  You won by a lot.  
Thank you all.  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  
6:32 P.M. EDT

Trump-Modi warmth aimed at China: NYT

Washington, June 27- The bonhomie US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi displayed at their meeting here was partly aimed at China, the New York Times has said.

"The display of warmth, a senior White House official said, was at least partly aimed at President Xi Jinping of China, who has disappointed Trump by failing to impose more pressure on North Korea to curb its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes," it said.

The Times described Trump and Modi as "two nationalist leaders with a shared passion for social media" and said "India sought to vie with China for Trump's favour in the region".

Pointedly, Trump noted that India had helped the US enforce sanctions on North Korea, the Times said.

But the daily said that while ties between the two countries had grown steadily closer over the last two decades, "India faces new uncertainties with Trump".

"For now, the US and India are finding common cause in pushing back against China's maritime ambitions," it said.

"Before Modi's visit, the Trump administration approved the sale of 22 surveillance drones to India, which New Delhi can use to eavesdrop on Chinese naval movements in the Indian Ocean.

"The drones, which have never before been sold to a non-NATO country, could be especially valuable if they are flown over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, giving India control of a so-called choke point that is one of China's greatest marine vulnerabilities," it said.


India, US to review trade relations to increase market access

Washington, June 27- The United States and India plan to undertake a comprehensive review of trade relations to expedite regulatory processes and increase market access in areas such as agriculture, information technology, and manufactured goods and services, according to a joint statement.

The joint statement issued after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump said that the two leaders committed that the US and India should intensify their economic cooperation to make their nations stronger and their citizens more prosperous.

The two leaders noted that extensive economic and tax reforms launched in their respective countries will unlock immense economic opportunities for both countries.

They expressed commitment to further expand and balance the trade relationship and remove obstacles to growth and jobs creation.

They also resolved to pursue increased commercial engagement in a manner that advances the principles of free and fair trade.

"To this end, the United States and India plan to undertake a comprehensive review of trade relations with the goal of expediting regulatory processes; ensuring that technology and innovation are appropriately fostered, valued, and protected; and increasing market access in areas such as agriculture, information technology, and manufactured goods and services," the statement said.

Trump and Modi expressed commitment to strengthening cooperation to address excess capacity in industrial sectors and called on their teams to find creative ways to improve bilateral trade.

The leaders affirmed the continued importance of their Strategic Energy Partnership and of leveraging new opportunities to elevate cooperation to enhance global energy security.

The leaders called for a rational approach that balances environment and climate policy, global economic development, and energy security needs.

Trump affirmed that the United States continues to remove barriers to energy development and investment in the United States and to US energy exports so that more natural gas, clean coal, and renewable resources and technologies are available to fuel India's economic growth.

"Prime Minister Modi and President Trump looked forward to conclusion of contractual agreements between Westinghouse Electric Company and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India for six nuclear reactors in India and also related project financing," the statement said.

Both leaders welcomed efforts towards expanding energy and innovation linkages across the energy sector and deepen cooperation, including on more efficient fossil fuel technologies, smart grids, and energy storage.

"They supported financing of energy projects, including clean coal projects, by Multilateral Development Banks to promote universal access to affordable and reliable energy," it said.

The leaders also agreed to strengthen their cooperation to address the growing threats and challenges from malicious cyber activity.

Trump welcomed India's formal entry into the International Expedited Traveler Initiative (Global Entry program) in order to facilitate closer business and educational ties between the citizens of India and the United States.

The statement said that Trump "gladly accepted" Modi's invitation to visit India.


US, India tell Pakistan: Don't let terrorists use your territory (Lead)
Washington, June 27-- In a strong message to Islamabad, the US and India have told Pakistan to ensure its territory is not used for terror attacks on other countries and asked it to bring to justice terrorists blamed for attacks in Mumbai and other places in India.

A joint statement issued after US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met here late on Monday stressed that terrorism was a global scourge that must be fought and terrorist safe havens rooted out in every part of the world.

The statement said India and the US will fight together "this grave challenge to humanity".

The statement specifically referred to the terror attacks in Mumbai (2008) and Pathankot (2016) that it said were perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups and said the terrorists must be expeditiously brought to justice.

The two countries expressed their commitment to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including Al Qaeda, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), D-Company and their affiliates.

The LeT was blamed for the Mumbai mayhem of November 2008 that killed 166 Indians and foreigners including Americans. The Jaish was accused of attacking the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in Punjab, leaving seven security personnel dead.

India appreciated the US decision to designate the Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist - just ahead of the Trump-Modi meet of Monday -- "as evidence of the commitment of the US to end terror in all its forms".

In their remarks to the media after delegation level talks, both Modi and Trump spoke of their commitment to combat terrorism.

Modi said battling terror and destroying terrorist hideouts would be an important part of mutual cooperation.

"We will enhance the intelligence exchange to boost coordination to address our common concerns over terrorism and will deepen our policy coordination accordingly."

Modi said the two countries had agreed to increase cooperation to tackle increasing radicalisation, extremism and terrorism.

He said India and US were concerned over growing instability in Afghanistan due to terrorism. He said the two countries will maintain close consultation, communication and coordination to ensure peace there.

Trump said both India and the US had been struck by terrorism, "and we are both determined to destroy terrorist organisations and the radical ideology that drives them.

"We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism," he said.

"Our militaries are working every day to enhance cooperation between our military forces. And next month, they will join together with the Japanese navy to take place in the largest maritime exercise ever conducted in the vast Indian Ocean."

Answering questions later, Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said the US move to declare Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist had sent a clear signal.

"You should take the step for what it is. It is in a sense fixing responsibility, highlighting a problem.

"There is a context to it... It is focusing on a particular group and a particular individual... I think none of us can really miss that message."

The Foreign Secretary said there was a broad discussion on Pakistan. It was also extensive and very detailed on certain issues.

"We had very much converging viewpoint of what is the problem, let us diagnose the problem. And it is not just the Indian situation... A lot of discussion related to what was happening in Afghanistan."

The joint statement announced increased cooperation to prevent travel by terrorists and to disrupt global recruitment efforts by terrorists by expanding intelligence-sharing and operational-level counter-terror cooperation.

They welcomed the commencement of the exchange of information on known and suspected terrorists for travel screening and vowed to strengthen information exchange on plans, movements and linkages of terrorist groups and moving of funds by terrorist groups.