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Aim to build forward-looking vision, says PM Narendra Modi ahead of US visit

LiveMint logoLiveMint 23-06-2017 Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: On the eve of his departure on an official visit to the US, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said he looked forward to “building a forward looking vision” for the India-US partnership during his first face-to-face meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Describing the existing partnership between the two countries as “multi-layered and diverse, supported by not just governments but all the stakeholders on both sides” Modi said he also looked forward to the “opportunity to have an in-depth exchange of views on further consolidating the robust and wide ranging” ties that India has with the US.

Modi is to arrive in Washington on 25 June and hold his meeting with Trump at the White House on 26 June.

According to news reports ahead of Modi’s visit, India is said to be seeking a $ 2 billion arms deal with the US that could see Asia’s third-largest economy and one of the largest arms importers in the world purchase 22 unarmed Predator drones. India, a big buyer of US arms, was recently named by Washington as a major defence ally.

India already uses dozens of Israeli Heron and Searcher unarmed aerial vehicles (UAVs), but the US drones operate at higher altitudes and can carry far heavier payloads, offering the Indian Navy greater reach, a Reuters news report said.

Reports about the UAV purchase follows an announcement by American firm Lockheed Martin, on Monday, that it had reached an agreement with India’s Tata Advanced Systems to produce F-16 planes in India. Lockheed has offered to shift its ageing F-16 production line from Fort Worth, Texas, as part of Modi’s ‘Make in India’ drive while it ramps up production of the high-end F-35 aircraft at home.

On his visit to Portugal, Modi said in the statement that he was looking forward to talks with Prime Minister Antonio Costa and “building on our recent discussions, we will review the progress of various joint initiatives and decisions.”

Costa was the chief guest at the two-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas programme in January. “We will also discuss ways to further enhance the bilateral engagement, especially in the areas of economic cooperation, science and technology, space collaboration and people to people ties,” Modi said.

On his visit to the Netherlands on 27 June, Modi noted that India and the Netherlands were celebrating 70 years of the establishment of Indo-Dutch diplomatic relations.

“I look forward to meeting Prime Minister (Mark) Rutte and reviewing our bilateral relations,” Modi said.

“Economic relations form the core of our bilateral relations. The Netherlands is our sixth largest trading partner in the EU (European Union) and fifth largest investment partner globally. The Dutch expertise in areas such as water and waste management, agriculture and food processing, renewable energy and ports and shipping, matches with our development needs. Indo-Dutch economic engagement is a win-win proposition,” Modi said.

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