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India's Modi in Washington for 'no frills' visit

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-26 07:02

WASHINGTON - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the United States for his first meeting on Monday with US President Donald Trump, seeking to build on growing ties and move beyond disagreements over climate change.

Relations between the two nations warmed under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama as India sought greater foreign investment and trade ties with Western nations.

Modi vowed to work closely with the Trump administration, but obstacles soon emerged on issues such as trade and visas for Indians wanting to work in the US.

Then Trump accused India of seeking to profit from the Paris climate accord as he announced he was pulling out of the deal this month - drawing sharp denials from New Delhi.

India's Modi in Washington for 'no frills' visit

Officials were eager to downplay expectations of the visit, describing it as "no frills" - in contrast to Modi's first US visit in 2014, when he basked in a rock star welcome at the Madison Square Garden arena in New York and addressed the United Nations.

Natural affinity

"If there's one thing we want (from the visit), it's chemistry," said one senior Indian official. "If the chemistry is good then frankly everything else gets sorted."

Some commentators have argued that Modi and Trump should have a natural affinity as political outsiders who have risen to power in part by castigating the traditional ruling elite on a nationalist platform.

One US official said the two leaders had a "lot in common".

"We are really seeking to roll out the red carpet," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Initial signs were positive, with the leaders exchanging warm words on Twitter.

"Important strategic issues to discuss with a true friend!" Trump wrote late on Saturday.

"Thank you @POTUS for the warm personal welcome. Greatly look forward to my meeting and discussions with you @realDonaldTrump," Modi tweeted in response.

Modi on Sunday was to meet with top US business leaders - including the heads of Apple, Microsoft and Google - ahead of his meeting the following day with Trump.

Trump's protectionist instincts, however, are at odds with India's efforts to boost exports and encourage Western manufacturers to "Make In India" - a flagship Modi scheme.

The Indian leader castigated "rising parochial and protectionist attitudes" in a speech delivered shortly after Trump took office.

A proposed overhaul of H-1B visas - used by thousands of Indian software engineers to work in the US - has also caused concern in New Delhi.

Agence France-presse

(China Daily 06/26/2017 page12)

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