Modi meets Trump

Washington, Jun 26 (PTI) Describing Narendra Modi as a”great Prime Minister”, President Donald Trump today discussedwith him ways to push the bilateral strategic ties amid US’strong message to Pakistan by declaring Hizbul Mujahideenchief Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist.

Modi, meeting Trump for the first time, was accorded awarm welcome with the US President and the first lady Melaniacoming out of the White House to receive him. At the White House portico, they exchanged pleasantriesand had a brief interaction before going inside for the summitmeeting.

As the two leaders sat for the meetings Trump, who hadrecently described Modi as a “true friend”, said it was “agreat honour” for him to receive the prime minister. “He is such a great Prime Minister. I have been speakingwith him and reading about him. He is doing a great job.Economically, India is doing very well and in so many otherways.

I would like to congratulate him for this,” he said inbrief comments. Modi expressed gratitude to Trump and the first lady forthe warm welcome extended to him, which included a ‘workingdinner’, the first of its kind under the current USadministration. “It is a welcome to 125 crore people of India. For that Iextend hearty thanks to the President and the first lady,” theprime minister said.

Modi said Trump has been following India’s growth marchand economic progress. He recalled that Trump had visited India in 2014 evenbefore he became the Presidential candidate and had made “warmobservations” about him, which he could never forget. Modi became the prime minister on May 26, 2014. Among the issues on the discussion table of Modi andTrump were counter-terrorism cooperation, defence partnership,global cooperation, trade and energy.

The tone for the first summit meeting was set by the USState Department which declared Syed Salahuddin, chief ofKashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, as a ‘globalterrorist’, just a few hours earlier. The State Department action sent out a strong messageagainst the terrorism emanating from Pakistan which is hurtingIndia.

Ahead of the meeting between Modi and Trump, US Secretaryof State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattisseparately called on the prime minister and discussed ways tostep up counter-terrorism cooperation and reviewed thesituation in Afghanistan. Earlier, Modi said the logic of the Indo-US strategicties is “incontrovertible” and the two countries have anoverriding interest in securing the world from terrorism,radical ideologies and non-traditional security threats.

In an uncertain global economic landscape, India and theUS stand as mutually reinforcing engines of growth andinnovation, the prime minister wrote in an oped in Wall StreetJournal. He recalled his visit to Washington last June and hisaddress to a joint session of the US Congress, where he saidthat the relationship between India and America had overcomethe “hesitations of history”.     “A year later, I return to the US confident in thegrowing convergence between our two nations,” he said.

“This confidence stems from the strength of our sharedvalues and the stability of our systems. Our people andinstitutions have steadfastly viewed democratic change as aninstrument for renewal and resurgence,” he said. Modi said the confidence in each other’s political valuesand a strong belief in each other’s prosperity has led togreater engagements between the two countries. “The logic of our strategic relationship isincontrovertible,”

Modi said while noting that defence was anarea of mutually beneficial cooperation. On the eve of Modi’s US visit, the Trump administrationhad dismissed reports that it has been ignoring India, sayingPresident Trump realises that the country has been a “force for good” in the world and ties with it were important. “I think that it would be wrong to say that thisadministration has been ignoring or not focused on India,” asenior administration official had said.

“I think that the US really appreciates India, and Ithink that President Trump realises that India has been aforce for good in the world and that it’s a relationshipthat’s important. And I think that will come through in thevisit on Monday,” the official said. “Yes, this will be the first opportunity for them to sitdown and have a conversation, but I think that this is stillfairly early on in the administration,” the official said.

On whether the contentious H-1B visa issue would come upfor discussion during the meeting, a senior administrationofficial said it was unlikely to be raised from the US sidebut if raised by the Indian side, the Americans were ready forit. PTI

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