WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today arrived in Washington DC where he will hold his first bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump who, in a tweet just hours earlier, called him a "true friend" with whom he had "important strategic issues to discuss". "Greatly look forward to my meeting and discussions with you," PM Modi said, replying to President Trump's tweet, thanking him for the "warm personal welcome". Ahead of the much-anticipated meeting on Monday, the White House on Saturday said that it was "seeking to roll out the red carpet" for PM Modi, adding that it "will be the first dinner for a foreign dignitary at the White House under this administration".
Here are the latest developments in this big story:
- On Monday afternoon, President Trump will host PM Modi at the White Housewhere the two leaders will spend around five hours together, beginning with a bilateral discussion, delegation-level talks, a reception and a working dinner.
- Among the key issues likely to be discussed between leaders of the world's two largest democracies are defence cooperation, boosting economic ties, combating terrorism and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
- President Trump's review of the H-1B visa programme, a key concern for India, is not expected to figure in the talks.
- Climate change, though, would be an important topic of discussion; the US has said it will "seek common ground" on the issue. President Trump, while announcing America's withdrawal from the Paris climate deal earlier this month, had made sharp comments on India saying it had made its participation "contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid."
- After the talks, PM Modi and President Trump will deliver a joint statement along with individual statements. But there will be no press meet, "as preferred by both leaders".
- A high point of the visit would be the US' approval for supply of 22 unarmed Guardian drones for the Indian Navy that had been held up for years. This $2-3 billion drone deal is likely to be held up as evidence that New Delhi is a "major defence partner" of the US, its biggest arms supplier.
- "President Trump realises that India is a force for good and that will come through in the visit on Monday," a senior official said.
- Ahead of the meeting of the two leaders, leading US congressmen have called on President Trump to press PM Modi to remove barriers to US trade and investment.
- PM Modi will begin his three-day visit to the US with a meeting in Washington DC today with about 20 leading American CEOs including Apple's Tim Cook, Google's Sundar Pichai, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Walmart's Doug McMillon and Caterpillar's Jim Umpleby.
- Later, the PM will drive down less than two miles away to a lunch reception in the DC suburb of Virginia where he will interact with the Indian community. The programme is likely to be attended by about 600 members of the community.
(With inputs from Agencies)