Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump have discussed the contentious issue of the US' trade deficit with India and increasing their cooperation in war-torn Afghanistan during a telephonic conversation.
During the conversation on Monday evening, the two leaders exchanged new year greetings and expressed satisfaction at the continued growth of the India-US strategic partnership in 2018.
"The leaders agreed to strengthen the US-India strategic partnership in 2019 and exchanged perspectives on how to reduce the US trade deficit with India," the White House said in a readout of the call.
According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the US' goods and services trade with India totalled an estimated $ 126.2 billion in 2017. Exports were $ 49.4 billion; imports were $ 76.7 billion. The US goods and services trade deficit with India was $ 27.3 billion in 2017.
They also agreed to expand security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and increase cooperation in Afghanistan, according to the White House.
Trump last week took a jibe at Modi for funding a "library" in Afghanistan, saying it is of no use in the war-torn country as he criticised India and others for not doing enough for the nation's security.
India has been actively involved in the reconstruction efforts in war-ravaged Afghanistan. It has committed about $ 3 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since US-led forces toppled the Taliban regime after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The two leaders also appreciated developments such as the launch of the new 2+2 dialogue mechanism and the first ever trilateral summit of India, US and Japan, a statement from the prime minister's office in New Delhi said.
The two nations held the first edition of the 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi in September.
They also took positive note of the growing bilateral cooperation in defence, counter-terrorism and energy, besides the co-ordination on regional and global issues, it said.
This was the first phone call between the two leaders after the tri-lateral summit meeting they had with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Buenos Aires in November on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Argentina.
Prime Minister Modi also held a telephonic conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss key bilateral and international issues. During the conversation, they resolved to step up cooperation in dealing with terrorism.