Donald Trump to visit India on PM's invite: From Howdy Modi to Osaka, a look at highlights from bilateral meets

  • Donald Trump is set to pay a state visit to India on 24 and 25 February at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said that the US President's visit will be a 'very special one' and it will go a long way in further cementing India-USA friendship

  • Over the last three years, Trump and Modi have developed a personal rapport and in 2019 they met four times, including their historic joint address before a strong 50,000 crowd of Indian-Americans in Houston

  • In the backdrop of Trump's maiden visit to India, let's have a look at some of the key highlights of the duo's bilateral meetings

Donald Trump is set to pay a State visit to India on 24 and 25 February at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi said the US president's visit will be a "very special one" and it will go a long way in further cementing India-USA friendship.

Over the past three years, Trump and Modi have developed a personal rapport and met four times in 2019, including their historic joint address before a strong 50,000 crowd of Indian-Americans in Houston.

This year, the two leaders have spoken over the phone on two occasions, including ]last weekend. The two leaders are expected to jointly address a massive public rally at the newly-built Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad.

Being built at an estimated cost of $100 million, the Motera Stadium, with a seating capacity of 1,10,000 spectators will be the world's largest cricket stadium, overtaking the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia which can hold 1,00,024.

In the backdrop of Trump's maiden visit to India, let's have a look at some of the key highlights of the duo's bilateral meetings.

21 to 27 September 2019: Howdy Modi, UNGA 

Bilateral meet 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the US between 21 to 27 September, on his first trip to the US as prime minister, during which he addressed the annual UN General Assembly session and had a series of bilateral and multilateral engagements in New York.

Plus, it was also the first meeting between Modi and Trump, in the latter's capacity as President of the United States, where they meet twice.

It was a three-part visit with the first being multilateral engagements at the United Nations. The second was the interactions with political and business communities and with the diaspora. Bilateral meetings with world leaders in New York was the third part.

 Donald Trump to visit India on PMs invite: From Howdy Modi to Osaka, a look at highlights from bilateral meets

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US president Donald Trump at the 'Howdy, Modi' rally. PTI

After their first bilateral meet, Trump promised that a trade deal with India would be signed “very soon” and a larger deal was down the line.

He told reporters: “We are doing very well...I think very soon we will have a trade deal. We will have a larger deal later on.”

Modi said, “As far as trade (between India and the US) is concerned, I’m happy that our Petronet has signed an MoU of $2.5-billion investment in the energy sector.”

The deal between the world’s most populous democracies would be a welcome victory for Trump, whose administration, at that time, had made little headway negotiating an end to its prolonged trade war with China.

This deal was expected to lower some tariffs on US produce and restore preferential treatment for some Indian exports to the United States, according to Reuters reports. This deal at present remains muddled as there have been no talks on it since the meeting.

Back and forth on tariffs

Trump had repeatedly complained about India’s high tariff rates, including a 50 percent tariff on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The United States had also taken issue with India’s new investment rules on e-commerce that limit how companies such as Amazon and Walmart-backed Flipkart can do business in a rapidly growing online market set to touch $200 billion by 2027.

According to Business Standard, India-US trade talks had been running the risk of coming apart earlier last year, after the US had cut off India’s duty-free access to its market under its largest preferential trade scheme, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

Subsequently, India raised import duties on key high-value imports from the US, mostly among agricultural products such as apples and almonds. Reinstatement of GSP benefits has remained a key part of the Indian demand list, according to sources.

The US media had simultaneously reported that a trade deal with India is a matter of “when”, not “if”. But clearly, such was not the case.

Kashmir

The meeting between Modi and Trump which lasted 35 to 40 minutes, had raised the challenges India faced with regard to terrorism, especially in Jammu and Kashmir.

He also, later on, went on to offer Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan to media between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. Recently, the US president met Imran on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum summit in Davos.

Before going for the bilateral meeting, Trump told reporters, again, that he is watching the “Kashmir” situation “very closely” and is ready to help if needed.

During Modi's visit, the US had declared Syed Salahuddin, the chief of Kashmiri militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, as a "global terrorist".

In 2016, the US entered into an arrangement with India to share information about known and suspected terrorists.  This is new and a welcome move, particularly since the US took 25 years to take cognisance of Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist.

Howdy Modi

In what was hailed as one of the largest ever receptions of a foreign leader in the United States, 'Howdy, Modi' — a rally organised in Houston, Texas to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US — was marked by Donald Trump as a 'profoundly historic event', that was reportedly attended by over 50,000 people.

While Modi took centre stage and spoke on a range of issues such as Article 370 to even endorsing Trump with 'Abki Baar, Trump ki Sarkar', the US president also spoke about his "close friend".

Modi also asked the crowd to give Trump a standing ovation, as he targeted Pakistan and its Prime Minister Imran Khan, without directly naming them.

Addressing the large gathering at Houston, Modi had hit out at Pakistan for its support to terrorism and said that India's decision to nullify Article 370 has caused trouble to those who cannot handle their own country as he called for a decisive battle against terrorism.

Trump, in his address, vowed to protect innocent civilians from the threat of radical Islamist terrorism and said border security is vital to both America and India as he emphasised on bolstering further the India-US security relationship.

Trump said the two countries will soon sign several defence deals to bolster their relationship. This lead to India holding the first-ever tri-service military exercise codenamed "Tiger Triumph" at Visakhapatnam and Kakinada in November.

26 August 2019: G7 Summit 

Trump made a U-turn from his earlier "mediation" claim, saying that India and Pakistan are capable of resolving the Kashmir issue themselves when the met Modi on the sidelines of the G7 summit in France.

"US is friends with both India and Pakistan. I have spoken to both the prime ministers about the Kashmir issue. The prime minister (Narendra Modi) feels that he has it under control. They speak with Pakistan and I'm sure that they will be able to do something that will be very good," Trump said.

This was the first time both leaders were meeting after the Union government revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status by abrogating Article 370 and bifurcating the state into two Union Territories

Narendra Modi meeting Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit. Image courtesy: Twitter/PIB_India

Narendra Modi meeting Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit. Image courtesy: Twitter/PIB_India

His remarks had come a month after his controversial statements during Imran's visit to the White House, where Trump had claimed that Modi had asked him to mediate between the two countries on the Kashmir issue. India had denied his claims.

Answering a question from the press, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too said on the sidelines of the G7 Summit that India and Pakistan will resolve all issues bilaterally, without speaking directly about Kashmir.

"There are many issues with Pakistan. We don't bother other countries over these issues. All issues can be solved through discussion," Modi said.

28 to 29 June 2019: G20 Osaka Summit

Huawei ban

Modi and Trump had held a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, where the two leaders discussed the technical and business opportunities that 5G provides for cooperation between India and the US.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had suggested that Japan, America, and India can collaborate on 5G, the fifth-generation cellular network technology that provides broadband access.

The US had banned Huawei, the world's leader in telecom equipment and the number two smartphone producer, over concerns of security and Washington had pressured other countries to restrict the operations of the Chinese telecom firm.

The US had been pressurising India to ban the Chinese company from its 5G development and deployment on the back of security concerns of Chinese surveillance on these networks.

The Chinese telecom firm, however, has been allowed to participate in 5G trials in India and the Indian government has not taken any stand yet to bar the company from building a 5G network.

25 -26 June 2017: Modi's maiden meeting with Trump

H1B visa 

The H1B visa issue was looming on the India-US relationship in the run-up to Modi’s maiden meeting with Trump but did not figure in the talks between the two leaders. The Trump administration, during 2017, was undertaking a review of the H1B visa, the most sought-after by Indian IT professionals. This issue had taken centre stage ahead of Modi’s US visit with the issue expected to figure prominently in bilateral discussions.

However, the H1B issue specifically did not figure in the talks with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar telling reporters that there was a lot of discussion with business leaders and the two leaders about the digital partnership when asked about whether H1B visa issue figured in the talks.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 13, 2020 15:28:56 IST