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Trump visit should help India, not be extension of his poll campaign: Cong

Stressing that the Indo-US relationship is strategic, Congress leader Anand Sharma said the ties between the two countries cannot be merely transactiona

Donald Trump

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix. Photo: AP/PTI
The US President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix | Photo: AP/PTI

The Congress on Friday said the upcoming visit of US President should not become an extension of the US presidential election campaign and should yield concrete results for India.

There should be "gravitas, seriousness and depth" in Trump's visit as well as "tangible outcomes on substantive issues" that should be announced during the joint declaration to be made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump, senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said.

Raising concerns about withdrawal of General System of Preference (GSP) status to India by the US, reduction in H1B visas and restoration of social security of Indian professionals, Sharma said he hoped Prime Minister Narendra Modi will bring these to the table during his meeting with Trump.

The former Union minister said the visit should not become a sequence of the US presidential election campaign for the Indian diaspora and the results of the visit should be in the interest of the nation.

"This visit should not become an extension of the US precedential campaign for the Indian diaspora. We do not become active party in the elections in another country. This mistake was made in Texas at the 'Howdy Modi' event and the Prime Minister ought to be careful as these are setting wrong precedents," he said.

Stressing that the Indo-US relationship is strategic and expands to all areas of cooperation including nuclear and defence, Sharma said the ties between the two countries cannot be merely transactional.

"This visit should not be reduced to a photo opportunity or a PR exercise that would devalue the importance of our partnership, that would also not be in India's interest," he said.

The Congress leader said the Prime Minister and the government must keep in mind India's sovereignty, self-respect and interest while conducting this visit. "There have already been many arbitrary decisions which have affected our engagement with other strategic partners. We are a sovereign country and have the right to engage with our other partner countries on our terms," he said, adding that India's strategic partnerships with the other countries should be independent.

"We hope... our country will hear enhancement of H1-B visas, restoration of GSP for India which provides preferential market access for Indian produce to America, and also reversing the present association and recognizing India as a developing country.

"An agreement on the refund of the social security contributions that are regularly being made by Indian IT professionals over the years and they run into billions of dollars, these are outstanding issues," he said.

Sharma also lamented the contrast between the simplicity and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and the government's extravaganza over Trump's visit. The Congress leader questioned the government's remarks on Thursday that the entire event at Motera stadium in Ahmedabad is being hosted by a 'Nagrik Abhinandan Samiti'.

"Is the US President coming on the invite of the Nagrik Abhinandan Samiti? The government should desist from being hypocritical... The prime minister should openly say that Trump is his friend and he is making grand arrangements," he said.

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First Published: Fri, February 21 2020. 18:30 IST