Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on June 26 hold talks with President Donald Trump on a range of issues, including terrorism and India’s concerns over possible changes in H1B visa rules, in their first bilateral meeting after the new administration took over in the US.
The External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi said today that their meeting would provide a new direction for a deeper bilateral engagement “on issues of mutual interest and consolidation of multi-dimensional strategic partnership.”
Modi’s US visit would begin on June 25, it said.
In Washington, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump “looks forward” to his meeting with Modi on June 26 and discuss ways to strengthen the bilateral ties to “advance our common priorities: fighting terrorism, promoting economic growth and reforms, and expanding security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.”
“President Trump and Prime Minister Modi will look to outline a common vision for the US-India partnership that is worthy of their 1.6 billion citizens,” Spicer said.
He said they are expected to set forth a vision that will expand the bilateral partnership “in an ambitious and worthy way of both countries’ people.”
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in her annual press meet last week, however, said Modi would also raise the issues surrounding the US’ plans to reduce the number of H-1B visa slots that are mainly used by Indian IT workers.
Almost 1.8 million H-1B visas have been distributed in fiscal years 2001 through 2015, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. From fiscal years 2001 to 2015, workers from India received the largest share (50.5 per cent) of all H-1B visas for first-time employment.
Despite the recent hiccups over the issue, US-India trade has grown six-fold since 2000, from USD 19 billion to USD 115 billion in 2016, according to the White House. “US energy and technologies, including natural gas, are helping to build Prime Minister Modi’s vision for a new India and creating thousands of US jobs in the process,” Spicer said.
Apart from ways to enhance trade and business cooperation, Modi and Trump are expected to discuss defence ties.
US Defence Secretary James Mattis has already made it clear that his country recognises India as a major defence “partner partly out of respect” for New Delhi’s “indispensable role” in maintaining stability in the Indian Ocean region.
The US was exploring “new ways” to address new challenges as well from maritime security to the growing threat posed by the spread of terrorism in Southeast Asia, Mattis has said.
Regional security situation including Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and other international issues are expected to figure prominently during the meeting of the two leaders.
Modi’s visit also comes in the backdrop of Trump’s announcement to withdraw the US from the historic Paris Climate Agreement signed by over 190 other countries.
Trump had blamed India and China for the US withdrawal.
“India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions of dollars from developed countries,” he had said.
Strongly rejecting Trump’s contention, India said it signed the Paris deal not under duress or for lure of money but due to its commitment to protect the environment.
During his visit to France this month, Modi even said that India would “go above and beyond” the Paris deal to protect climate for the future generations.