Will Modi be able to charm Trump?

India-US engagement is expected to witness a new phase during Modi’s US visit

shankar

Shankar Kumar | June 24, 2017 | New Delhi


#defence   #Iran   #Chabahar port   #US   #Donald Trump   #Narendra Modi   #terrorism   #South China Sea. H1B  


Since becoming prime minister in May 2014, it would be Narendra Modi’s fifth visit to the US when he lands there on June 25. Modi will not only be meeting US president Donald Trump for the first time, the visit may also help  New Delhi reduce the cacophony surrounding the H1B visa issue and the possible deportation of nearly three lakh Indians who are illegally staying in the US. In February, the Trump administration ordered a crackdown on illegal immigrants who are nearly 11 million in number.

Although the fate of these crucial issues would be known only after one-on-one meeting between two leaders, what is creating buzz in the media is president Trump’s decision to throw a working dinner for Modi at the White House in the evening of June 26. Since becoming the US president on January 20 this year, Trump would be for the first time, according to an US official, host a working dinner at the White House for a foreign dignitary. While it indicates how high importance is being attached to the Indian prime minister’s visit, it also hints at the Trump administration’s plan to ratchet up its engagement with India at a time when there is concern over China’s emergence as a big brother in the South China Sea and that Pakistan has, for all practical purposes, replaced the US with China as its strongest ally in the fast changing geopolitical scenario.
 
The Modi-Trump meeting is also important for India which is developing the Chabahar Port in Iran.  Seen as a critical component of New Delhi’s connectivity programme in the Central Asian region, the Chabahar Port project is facing challenges. Ever since President Trump has threatened to impose fresh sanctions on Iran after it launched two missiles in January this year, all foreign vendors who were roped in by New Delhi, have refused to supply technological material for the Chabahar Port, thereby creating a hurdle in the way of India in having a deep sea transit port in Iran in the next two-three years.
 
On the bilateral front, Modi will like to see that the Trump administration comes to terms with ‘Make in India’ initiative and allow big American companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and others to have their operational units in India. Defence cooperation between the two sides is going to be major agenda.  Since 2008, as per a rough estimate, India has signed more than $15 billion worth of defence deals with the US. Cross-border terrorism would be another major area of discussion between the two leaders. That apart, trade and investment would dominate the two countries’ talks. 
 
“The relationship with the US that India has in the economic and commercial sphere is a very robust relationship. We have a large bilateral trade turnover, I think it is close to about $115 billion,” MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in his briefing on Modi’s US visit. 
However, the taste of pudding is in the eating. Success of the visit would be known only after Modi and Trump’s summit level meet. The prime minister is known for developing easy chemistry with world leaders. How he shapes up his relationship with Trump, a mercurial personality, during their first ever encounter, will be a closely watched affair. 
 

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