Here’s what experts say about Donald Trump’s India visit

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Updated: February 26, 2020 11:57:54 AM

The US President has assured India is highest consideration for further collaboration in the defence sector.

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Besides the religious freedom, peace talks and the expected peace deal with Taliban, fight against terrorism, coronavirus trade, and defence, H1B Visas were all discussed when the US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had talks on Tuesday. Responding to a media question, President Trump said that “There was a comprehensive discussion on religious freedom with Prime Minister Modi.” Adding “PM Modi wants people to have this freedom.” On the US talks on the peace deals with the Taliban, the visiting leader said that this was discussed too and that “India will like to see it happen.”

Once again the US President hinted that the US is ready to mediate on Kashmir.  “Anything I can do to mediate or help, I would do,” he said. Earlier media persons after the bilateral talks between the two leaders, foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that the talks were focused on five major categories – security, defence, energy, technology and people to people contact.

The US President has assured India is highest consideration for further collaboration in the defence sector. While pointing out that India has the highest tariffs in the world, the visiting leader hinted that the trade deal will probably happen by the end of the year. According to Trump “India is going to be major a player in the next 50 to 100 years and it is going to have a phenomenal future.”

EXPERT VIEWS

Dr Mukesh Aghi, President and CEO of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, says, “It is evident that under President Trump’s and Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, the US-India strategic and commercial partnership has grown leaps and bounds and the sky is the limit to what we can achieve by working together.”

It is evident that the partnership is bolstered by two interconnected geo-strategic and geo-economic realities: the United States needs an economically strong India to maintain peace, stability, and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific. India needs the United States for its infrastructure build-out, capital, and technology to remain the fastest-growing emerging market.

“This visit, therefore, highlights the growing confidence that both countries have in each other’s reliability as long-term strategic and commercial partners. The economic partnership that forms the bedrock of the bilateral ties is stronger than ever before— and based on true win-win opportunities. We are already on the brink of some noteworthy outcomes – $3 billion defense deal on the table, newly announced exports of hydrocarbons, a virtual gas pipeline agreement signed yesterday between Indian Oil and Exxon, joint space cooperation, and growing our innovation-based economies. As a ‘Major Defense Partner’ of India, the United States today conducts more military exercises with India than with any other non-NATO partner,” Dr Aghi opines.

Most importantly, the core of President Trump’s remarks underscored the indomitable spirit of Indian citizens who have successfully built an unparalleled democratic society and the profound contributions of 4 million Indian-Americans who live in the United States— as a result, both countries have been able to build long and enduring bonds over the last few decades.

According to Dr Raj Kumar Sharma, Consultant, Faculty of Political Science, IGNOU, “India and the US are natural partners and today, the public opinion in India favours a strong bond between the two countries. The increase in areas of convergence between the two sides has led to the establishment of comprehensive global strategic partnership. Trump did not visit Pakistan and came to India despite the delay in trade deal shows India’s strategic significance for the current US administration. Defence deals worth USD 3 billion were concluded including Apache and MH-60 Romeo helicopters. Sale of advanced military hardware from the US to India has been instrumental in building India’s maritime capabilities against an assertive China in the Indo-Pacific. On the issue of cross-border terrorism, the US has been engaging with Pakistan to eliminate its terror safe heavens that target India. In the past, the US has also supported India’s right to defend itself against Pakistan sponsored terrorism. India should be ready to play a bigger security role in South Asia as Trump would soon wind up American presence in Afghanistan. India needs to devise ways and means to further increase its security profile in Afghanistan.”

“PM Modi has cultivated a special relationship with President Trump and their personal rapport has been instrumental in pushing India-US relations forward. By visiting India before the US presidential elections, President Trump hopes to decisively win over the influential and wealthy Indian diaspora in the US which could play an important role in bringing Trump back to White House again,” he says.

According to Dr Sharma, “Trade would continue to be an area where the US and India would continue to have issues. The two countries share a strategic convergence to balance China and so far, trade issues have not been able to spoil this understanding. If he comes back to power, Trump 2.0 could be a trade nightmare for India. New Delhi would need to sort out these issues, else China would have the last laugh.”

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