First Modi-Trump meet: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets US President Donald Trump on June 26, the world would be glued to the developments in Washington. While we can expect a lot of photo-ops, selfies and punchy one-liners from both leaders, US-India observers would be more interested in the deals the two countries would likely sign. More attention would come from China and Pakistan. While the former expects to gain from the meet, the latter would be concerned about how Modi-Trump meet would affect its interests.
Recently, the Trump administration has hinted at taking some tough measures to deal with Pakistan’s inability to end terror safe havens on its territory. As Modi meets Trump, especially at a time when India appears more determined than ever to force Pakistan to give up terrorism, Islamabad would certainly not have easy minutes in the run up to the meet.
For now, the buzz on first Modi-Trump meet is getting stronger. India-US is expected to formally do at least two big defence deals during the summit. PTI reported on Thursday the US has already cleared the sale of 22 predator Guardian drones for a price of around $2-3 billion. The drones would act as a force multiplier to boost the Indian Navy’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
The sale of the 22 predator drones manufactured by General Atomics could prove to be “a game changer” for the US-India relations as it operationalises the status of “major defence partner”, reports PTI. According to General Atomics, the Predator Guardian UAV,a variant of the Predator B, can be used for wide-area, long-endurance maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Guardian drones can stay in the air for up to 27 hours and fly at maximum altitude of 50,000 feet.The Indian Navy requested for this platform last year.
Apart from the Guardian drones, there is also a possibility of discussion and agreement on making American F-16 fighter jets in India under the ‘Make in India’ programme. Reuters reported on June 19 that Lockheed Martin has already signed an agreement with India’s Tata Advanced Systems to produce F-16 fighter planes in India, pressing ahead with a plan to shift its Fort Worth, Texas plant to win billions of dollars worth of order from the Indian military.
Not just the two defence deals, Modi-Trump is expected to take the Indo-US relationship, which reached a high point during Barack Obama rule, to a new high.