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Donald Trump offers to host Narendra Modi at White House later this year

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-03-2017 Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: President Donald Trump has renewed an invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the US later this year and expressed support for Modi’s economic reform agenda for Asia’s third-largest economy.

This was revealed by the White House in a readout issued late on Tuesday on telephone conversation between Trump and Modi on Monday. In his telephone call to the Prime Minister, Trump had congratulated Modi on his Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) recent electoral successes in Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Goa—in the third publicized conversation between the two leaders.

“President Donald J. Trump spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to congratulate him on the outcome of India’s recent state-level elections. President Trump expressed support for the Prime Minister’s economic reform agenda and emphasized his great respect for the people of India. President Trump also said he looks forward to hosting Prime Minister Modi in Washington later this year,” the White House readout said.

Trump had earlier issued an invite to Modi to visit the US in his telephone call made immediately after his inauguration on 20 January.

The president’s emphasis on “respect for the people of India” can be taken as significant as it comes after several attacks on Indian nationals and Americans of Indian origin in the US in the past several weeks with two people killed in suspected hate crimes. This could smoothen the path for a visit by Modi to the US later this year for a bilateral visit with public sentiment at home assuaged in the wake of the attacks on Indian nationals and Americans of Indian origin in the US in the wake of Trump’s call for “America First” and his anti-immigration stance.

For now there seem to be no dates for Modi’s visit to the US to meet Trump though the two are sure to meet on the sidelines on the G20 meeting in Hamburg in July.

Trump’s phone conversation with Modi comes days after a visit to the US by Indian national security advisor Ajit Doval during which he met defence secretary James Mattis, secretary of homeland security Gen (retd) John Kelly and national security advisor Lt-Gen. H.R. McMaster.

Prior to Doval’s visit, Indian foreign secretary S. Jaishankar and commerce secretary Rita Teotia—on a visit to the US earlier this month—also met McMaster and President Trump’s top adviser on international economic affairs Kenneth Juster, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and Kelly.

Despite the cloud over relations due to suspected hate crimes against Indian nationals and people of Indian origin in the US, “overall our sense was that the administration has a very positive view of the (India-US) relationship and a very positive view of India,” Jaishankar had said after his meetings in the US.

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