When President Donald Trump travels to India to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the two leaders will outline an ambitious vision for the next chapter of relationship between the two largest democracies of the world, a top American diplomat said Thursday.
“We are approaching an important inflection point in the US-India relationship,” Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice G Wells said Thursday at a reception hosted by US India Business Council in honour of the new Indian Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
US President Donald Trump’s visit to India on February 24-25 will be a brief and busy one.
The trip will be heavy on optics — India can’t be otherwise — but also on substance. It will underscore what brings the two countries together — wide strategic interests, people-to-people ties and everything in between.
“When President Trump and Prime Minister Modi meet later this month in front of thousands of roaring fans, they’re going to outline an ambitious vision for the next chapter of this natural alliance,” Wells said.
Wells reminded the American business community that it was two decades ago that the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had called India and US as ‘natural allies’.
“This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Prime Minister Vajpayee’s historic visit to Washington during which he invoked that famous phrase, ‘natural allies’. We have come such a long way over the last two decades and are turning that vision into a reality,” Wells told the gathering.
Wells said Trump and Modi enjoy a very special rapport. “President Trump is eager to travel to India to make his mark on this very important relationship,” she said.
Sandhu, described the upcoming trip as historic. “Within 10 days, we will witness the historic visit of President of United States to India. This visit will help to solidify our partnership across all spheres,” said the Indian Ambassador.
That said, the visit will also provide a stage for Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bolster each other in different ways. Trump’s popularity is at its highest with a 49% approval rating, the Republicans are behind him, the Democrats are in disarray, and the impeachment is yesterday’s news.
Indian officials are working hard on a modest trade deal and getting approval for 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Indian Navy worth $2.6 billion before the visit. Although India has bought $17 billion worth of US defence equipment since 2007, Trump government officials complain that no deal has been signed during his term, despite offers to sell systems that no past president would.
This week, the US approved the sale of an Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) to India estimated at $1.8 billion.