Modi Visits White House

Modi Visits White House

Photo : Prime Mnister Modi, President and First Lady Melania Trump.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the White House last Monday for meetings with President Donald Trump. The PM was invited to the White House earlier in the year, but could not make it because of election campaigns for state elections. June was most convenient for both leaders.

India is the world’s largest democracy while US is the oldest continuing democracy, a bond needed for preserving and encouraging democratic governance worldwide. Their relations have implications for the world as India is the fastest growing large economy. And India has been providing a lot of financial assistance to poor countries like Guyana, Grenada, African countries, etc. India is the largest donor country to Guyana on a per capita basis. In addition, India gives dozens of scholarships to Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica, etc. When India develops, the third world benefits.

Modi and Trump held extensive discussions on a variety of international and bilateral issues. Then they jointly issued a declaration affirming closer ties between the two nations. The declaration said that bilateral ties between India and the U.S would continue to grow, seeking to dispel the notions that the latter’s election to the White House on a nationalist agenda might have a negative impact on the relationship between the two democracies. Relations were cool during the cold war when India allied with the Soviet Union. Relations improved under Clinton, Bush Jr. and  reaching a peak under Obama.

With Modi by his side in the Rose Garden of the White House after they met for the first time, Trump said the relationship “has never been stronger, has never been better.”

The two leaders shared a meal together. They had three hugs in the four hours that Modi spent at the White House. First Lady Melania Trump gave the Indian PM a tour of the residential quarter.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told reporters that the interaction between the leaders showed “visible chemistry,”, and “they were comfortable talking to each other.” The one-on-one meeting between the two lasted for 40 minutes before they were joined by aides. Several agreements were hammered out. A joint statement by the leaders issued after the deliberations underscored “the fight against terrorism as a cornerstone of mutual cooperation between the countries”.

According to media reports, both sides “reiterated their commitment to continuing the course on strategic convergence in Asia Pacific, increasing defence trade partnership and added energy as a new thrust area of co-operation”. A fact sheet provided  by the White House said, “with the sale of Guardian drones, Apache attack helicopters, and C-17 aircraft, defence orders by India for American companies will be nearly $19 billion, supporting thousands of U.S jobs.”

Addressing the media after the formal talks but before the reception and state dinner, Trump and Modi spoke of shared democratic values, and their status of being leaders of two big democracies. “The friendship between the United States and India is built on shared values, including our shared commitment to democracy,” the President said.

In response, Modi said “there was a meeting of minds between the two as the top priority for both President Trump and myself is to protect our society from global challenges like terrorism; and because our aim is the strengthening of India and the USA -- two great democracies in the world.”

They did not take questions after their announcement to the media