Prime Minister Narendra Modi will, on June 26, hold talks with President Donald Trump on a range of issues, including terrorism and India's concerns over possible changes in H1B visa rules, in their first bilateral meeting after the new administration took over in the US. The External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi said on Tuesday that their meeting would provide a new direction for a deeper bilateral engagement "on issues of mutual interest and consolidation of multi-dimensional strategic partnership." In Washington, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump "looks forward" to his meeting with Modi on June 26 and discuss ways to strengthen the bilateral ties to "advance our common priorities: fighting terrorism, promoting economic growth and reforms, and expanding security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region." "President Trump and Prime Minister Modi will look to outline a common vision for the US-India partnership that is worthy of their 1.6 billion citizens," Spicer said. He said they are expected to set forth a vision that will expand the bilateral partnership "in an ambitious and worthy way of both countries' people." External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in her annual press meet last week, however, said Modi would also raise the issues surrounding the US' plans to reduce the number of H-1B visa slots that are mainly used by Indian IT workers. Trump invited Modi to Washington after the Indian leader rang him in January to congratulate the new president on his inauguration. "The president and the prime minister have had a number of positive phone conversations, and expect to further that discussion ...
Whether it's economic growth and reforms, fighting terrorism, expanding our cooperation as major defence partners," Spicer said in response to a question. The bilateral talks appear to be no bed of roses as they come amidst thorny issues like US' plans to reduce the number of H-1B visa slots that are mainly used by Indian IT workers, and its withdrawal from the historic climate accord. The White House said that the US-India trade has grown six-fold since 2000, from $19 billion to $115 billion in 2016, despite the recent hiccups over the H1-B visa issue. "US energy and technologies, including natural gas, are helping to build Prime Minister Modi's vision for a new India and creating thousands of US jobs in the process," Spicer said. Notably, Modi's US visit, which would begin on June 25, comes in the backdrop of Trump's announcement to withdraw the US from the historic Paris Climate Agreement signed by over 190 other countries. In his announcement of the decision for which he received a global condemnation, Trump had blamed India and China for the US withdrawal. "India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions of dollars from developed countries," he had said. Strongly rejecting Trump's contention, India said it signed the Paris deal not under duress or for lure of money but due to its commitment to protect the environment. During his visit to France this month, Modi even said that India would "go above and beyond" the Paris deal to protect climate for the future generations. Apart from ways to enhance trade and business cooperation, Modi and Trump are expected to discuss defence ties.
Modi's visit will come while Trump is under political stress because of alleged Russian interference in US elections last year and contacts by member of his inner circle with Kremlin-connected figures.