The meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi
and US President Donald Trump
would set the tone and the framework for the bilateral relationship going forward, a leading expert on India and Asia has said.
"The two leaders will have a chance to find some common ground on the way they look at the world and a common strategic view that would set the framework on how the two governments pursue the relationship going forward," Senior Fellow for India with the Asia Society Policy Institute
(ASPI) Marshall Bouton told PTI.
Bouton, a nationally known expert on India and Asia, said the first meeting between Trump and Modi in Washington on June 26 will be "all about setting the tone and the framework for the relationship going forward" but he does not expect the meeting to be "big bang."
"I am not dismissing the possibility, but I am not expecting major breakthrough announcements from this meeting. In some ways those would be the cart before the horse," said Bouton, who is President Emeritus of The Chicago Council
on Global Affairs.
He said that the "most positive" outcome of the first summit talks between leaders of the world's largest and oldest democracies would be "a meeting of the minds on the issues that the two leaders want to pursue together."
Bouton had last month authored a comprehensive ASPI paper 'The Trump Administration's India Opportunity,' in which he called for the US administration to move decisively and engage Modi's government to deepen cooperation and manage potential disputes.
Listing the priority areas for the first Modi-Trump meeting, Bouton said the two leaders must begin by emphasising the strongest areas of mutual interest, which are clearly security and terrorism issues.
He noted that the Trump administration has not yet articulated with India its role in the broader Asia-Pacific region, importance of the US-India partnership over the next two-three decades of bringing stability and peace to Asia and India's "absolutely critical" role in accomplishing that.
On terrorism, he said both countries are grappling with the scourge and both are experiencing some growing concerns.
"Another area in the security realm is Pakistan," Bouton said, adding that Modi will want to share with Trump his view and his concerns about Pakistan behaviour vis-a-vis India in their bilateral relationship.
Modi will also be very interested in learning what is the strategy of the Trump administration on Afghanistan.
"What is the US interest in Afghanistan, that is highly relevant to India's interest. So I am sure that will be a very important subject of conversation. As part of that and also separately what does Prime Minister Modi want to hear from Trump about the US relationship with Pakistan going forward," Bouton said.
Another key issue could be China
and what is the Trump administration's strategic view of China
going forward, said Bouton, who has previously served as Director for Policy Analysis for Near East, Africa and South Asia in the US Department of Defense and as Special Assistant to the US Ambassador to India.