US President Donald Trump's upcoming visit to India demonstrates the strong and enduring ties between the two largest democracies of the world, the White House said on Friday.
The US president and First Lady Melania Trump will lead a 12-member American delegation to Ahmedabad, Agra and New Delhi on February 24 and 25.
"The president is going to India as a demonstration of the strong and enduring ties between our two countries," a senior administration official told reporters less than 48 hours before Trump departs for his maiden presidential trip to India.
"These are ties based on shared democratic traditions, common strategic interests, and enduring bonds between our people. And, in part, this has been exemplified by the very close relationship between the President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi," said the official, requesting anonymity.
The visiting American delegation includes Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and National Security Advisor Robert O' Brien.
Trump's daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who serve as Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the President respectively, will also be visiting India.
Senior advisors to the President Stephen Miller, Dan Scavino, Chief of Staff to the First Lady Lindsay Reynolds, Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Telecommunication Policy and Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff Robert Blair, and White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham are the other members of the delegation.
United States Ambassador to India Ken Juster will be travelling with the visiting delegation.
Participants in additional bilateral meetings include Chief Executive Officer of US International Development Finance Corporation Adam Boehler, Chairman of the FCC Ajit Pai, Deputy Assistant to the President for South and Central Asian Affairs Lisa Curtis, Special Assistant to President and Senior Director for Counterterrorism Kash Patel and Director for India, National Security Council, Mike Passey.
"The visit will focus on several key areas. First, we'll focus on building our economic and energy ties," the official said, noting the two-way trade in goods and services exceeded USD 142 billion in 2018.
Observing that India is the fifth-largest economy in the world with massive energy needs, the official said the US is ready to help India meet those demands.
In 2016, energy exports from the US to India grew by 500 per cent to nearly USD 7 billion.
During the trip, the two countries will focus on defense and security cooperation to fight terrorism and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The US wants an India that is strong with a capable military that supports peace, stability, and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region, the official said.
"Indeed, India is a pillar of our Indo-Pacific strategy, and we continue to work together to promote this vision of a free and open international system based on market economics, good governance, freedom of the seas and skies, and respect for sovereignty," said the senior administration official.
"This visit will build upon our many shared values, our strategic and economic interests, and lock in those gains made in the relationship by the administration over the last three years," the official said.
According to the White House official, Trump will arrive in Ahmedabad on Monday, where he will deliver remarks at Sardar Patel Stadium with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Thereafter, the President and the First Lady will be accompanied by Modi to the Taj Mahal in Agra.
"They will then fly to New Delhi and rest overnight, and have a full program on Tuesday. This will include ceremonial events, bilateral meetings with the prime minister, a business event with Indian investors, with special focus on companies that are investing in manufacturing in the US," the official said.
"He'll have a meet-and-greet with embassy staff and a meeting with the President of India. And to cap it off, there will be a state dinner at the presidential palace -- Rashtrapati Bhavan -- on Tuesday evening," the official said.