The United States' new administration plans to “roll out a red-carpet welcome” to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will be the first foreign leader for whom President Donald Trump would host a working dinner at the White House. The dinner is first of its kind under Trump administration. Modi, who left for Portugal on the three-nation tour today, will arrive in Washington DC on June 25 on a two-day visit and will have a meeting with Trump at the White House the next day.
“The White House is very interested in making this a special visit. We’re really seeking to roll out the red carpet. In fact, the two (leaders) will have dinner, a working dinner at the White House. This will be the first dinner for a foreign dignitary at the White House under this administration. So, we think that’s very significant,” a senior administration official told reporters at the White House on the eve of Modi’s arrival.
Beginning Monday afternoon, the two leaders would spend several hours together in various settings including one-o-one, delegation level, a reception and conclude with a working dinner.
“They’ll start off with a one-on-one meeting. They’ll go from the one-on-one meeting to the bilateral meetings. That will last for about an hour. Then they will each give press statements,” the official, said clarifying that it would not be a press conference," the official said.
“They’ll move from the press statements to a cocktail reception. And that will be followed by the working dinner. So it’s a long interaction, lots of time for the two leaders to get to know each other, to interact on the critical issues that face our two countries.”
Apart from official meetings with Trump and his cabinet colleagues, Modi will be meeting some prominent American CEOs.
Like in the past, he will also be interacting with the Indian diaspora.
'Looking forward to meeting'
Ahead of his visit, Modi yesterday said he looked forward to the opportunity of having an in-depth exchange of views.
"My USA visit is aimed at deepening ties between our nations. Strong India-USA ties benefit our nations & the world," he tweeted.
In a statement posted on the Facebook, Modi said his two-day visit to Washington from June 25 was at the invitation of Trump.
"President Trump and I have spoken on telephone prior to this. Our conversations have touched upon our common intent to take forward our productive all round engagement for the mutual benefit of our people," he said.
"I look forward to this opportunity to have an in-depth exchange of views on further consolidating the robust and wide ranging partnership between India and the United States," the prime minister said.
He noted that India's partnership with the US is multi- layered and diverse, supported by not just governments but all the stakeholders on both sides.
"I look forward to building a forward-looking vision for our partnership with the new Administration in the United States under President Trump," he added.
Defence, terrorism on top of the agenda
Defence ties between India and the US, and anti-terror strategies would be high on agenda during the meeting between President Trump and PM Modi.
Modi's Washington visit would strengthen the Indo-US relationship and help advance the common interest in fighting terrorism and promoting economic growth, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar here.
Secretary Tillerson met with Foreign Secretary Jaishankar yesterday to discuss the US-India relationship and the agenda for Modi's meetings at the White House on June 26, a State Department spokesman said told PTI.
The two agreed that the two countries have a deep and growing strategic partnership and hope to work more closely on regional and global issues, the official said in response to a question.
Ahead of the visit, a senior White House official said the US is very much interested in facilitating India’s defence modernisation, and helping to enhance its role as a leader in the Asia Pacific, the official said the Trump Administration believes that a strong India is good for the US. “Now, of course, we’ve seen rapid growth in the defence and security partnership over the last few years, and President Trump very much wants to build on that momentum.
No discussion on H-1B visa planned
However, there were no specific plans to raise the contentious H-1B visa issue during the meeting as the issue was under review and there have been no changes in the existing policy, the official said.
"On the (H-1B) visas issue, there's no plans for that to come up specifically," a senior administration official told reporters ahead of Modi-Trump meeting at the White House on Monday. But if raised by the Indian side, the Americans are ready for it, the official said.
Today, nearly four million Indian Americans are in the United States, and more than 166,000 Indian students are studying in the US, contributing USD 5 billion in economic activity and supporting an estimated 64,000 American jobs, the official said. Modi’s visit to the US – the first under the Trump Administration — offers an opportunity for relationship-building, the official said.