US First Lady Melania Trump would join President Donald Trump to welcome the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House today. Modi, who arrived in Washington DC on Saturday night at the invitation of the US President, is scheduled to spend more than four hours at the White House. After being received by Trump and the First Lady in the South Portico of the White House, the two leaders are expected to have a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office. This would-be Modi’s third meeting with a US President inside the Oval Office, the first two being with Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama in September of 2014 and June 2016. Thereafter the two leaders would be joined by their respective delegations in the adjoining Cabinet Room.
The US side is likely to be represented by Vice President Mike Pence, Defence Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor Lt Gen H R McMaster. The Prime Minister is expected to be joined among others by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and the Indian Ambassador to the US, Navtej Sarna. Thereafter Modi and Trump would head to the Rose Garden to make joint remarks to a large battery of from the mainstream American media, a group of foreign journalists and the travelling Indian media.
In their remarks, the two leaders are expected to lay their visions for the India-US relationship. According to a senior White House official, the two leaders are not expected to take any questions. But this might change. A joint India-US statement is also likely to be issued. After their media interaction, Trump joined by the First Lady would host the Prime Minister and the visiting Indian delegation for a dinner in the historic Blue Room of the White House. Modi would leave the White House later in the night with both the First Lady and Trump participating in the departure ceremony.
According to Mark Knoller, White House Correspondent for CBS News, Modi is the 28th foreign leader to be received by Trump at the White House. Counting overseas, Trump has so far met with 47 world leaders. But this is for the first time that Trump has hosted a foreign leader for a dinner at the White House. Modi’s maiden trip to the US under the Trump administration comes on the heels of several high-level visits between the two countries. Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan visited Houston and Washington DC in March and met US Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley visited the US in April for the annual Spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and met with his US counterpart. National Security Adviser Ajit K Doval and Foreign Secretary Jaishankar have visited the US in March and interacted with a wide cross-section of top US policymakers. From the US side, McMaster visited India in April. PTI LKJ NSA 06262030