Washington, June 22: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to meet United States President Donald Trump on Monday at 3:30 pm EST (Tuesday, 1 am IST). Speculation is on on what the two leaders will discuss in the five-hour long meeting at the White House. After the meeting, Trump and Modi will address the media without taking any questions and this will be followed by a working dinner. This will be for the first time that Trump will be hosting a foreign leader for working dinner at the White House. Whether this meeting is going to be just a mere handshake or a bigger warm hug remains to be seen.
The Indian as well as the foreign media is making several speculations on the much-awaited Modi-Trump meet. While some say it is going to be a big meeting, many also feel this, being the first meeting between the two leaders, is going to be a meet and greet encounter with just a way forward being discussed. Dhruv Jaishankar, an expert on Indo-US relations at the Brookings Institute, said in an article in Time, that troublesome issues will not be discussed just as yet. ““I suspect we will see a lot of the big troublesome issues swept to the side, because that could lead to a backlash from Trump. It would be like waving a red flag in front of a charging bull.”
“The meeting is about setting the right tone for the relationship moving forward. Modi will seek to emphasise ways in which India is there to help make America great again,” he said.
An editorial in The Hindu also says that Modi is keeping this visit short and not as loud as was his first visit after taking over as India’s Prime Minister. The editorial says that Modi is being cautious and wary of the change of guard in the US and would keep this visit low-profile so as to not upset Trump. The editorial also follows the line of Dhruv Jaishankar, saying, “It would be wise to put off more substantive decisions, on military cooperation, large defence purchases, Afghanistan and fighting regional terror, and the long-pending operationalisation of the nuclear deal to the next bilateral meeting, and focus instead on firming up the ground rules of engagement. That will allow Mr. Modi to get a true sense of what Mr. Trump’s commitment to the relationship is, while India studies its options on how to chart its course amid the new uncertainty in world politics.”
Michael Kugelman, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Centre think-tank, also told Al-Jazeera,”The summit will be a no-frills, let’s-get-acquainted affair. Its outcomes, from body language to any post-meeting joint statement, will offer clues about the future of ties that have progressed in recent years, but now face considerable uncertainty under Trump’s mercurial stewardship.”
Meanwhile, there are also mixed views on whether or not the H1-B issue will be discussed between the two leaders. Reports say that H-1B visa restrictions proposed by the Donald Trump administration might come up in discussion between the two leaders of the two biggest democracies in the world. However, it is highly unlikely that a commitment from the US administration would come on this.
This meeting also comes amidst differences between India and the US over the Paris climate agreement. Trump had just weeks ago accused India of seeking to profit from the Paris climate accord, as he announced his decision to withdraw the US from the agreement. “India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries,” he had said. However, his claim was rubbished by India.
Differences apart, the two leaders are looking forward to meeting each other. “Look forward to welcoming India’s PM Modi to White House on Monday. Important strategic issues to discuss with a true friend,” tweets Trump. All eyes are now on the much anticipated meeting.
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