Nation

Modi to get red carpet welcome in White House

June 25, 2017 05:15 AM

WASHINGTON: In a city with a new administration that is upending and dismantling almost everything from the Obama years — from health care to Gulf policy — American outlook towards India, at least in terms of geo-politics, appears to be one of the few constants.

The Obama and Bush administrations had similarly de-hyphenated India and Pakistan while seeing Pakistan as a delinquent problem state, but the articulation has since become sharper amid punitive moves in Congress against a one-time ally.

Pm Narendra Modi, who arrives in the US capital on Saturday evening (Sunday morning India time), will be assured by signals to this effect by the Trump White House, which announced on Friday that he would be accorded a red-carpet welcome and the first dinner, albeit a working meal rather than a banquet, for a foreign leader in the new dispensation in Washington DC.

"Look forward to welcoming India's PM Modi to @WhiteHouse on Monday. Important strategic issues to discuss with a true friend!" Trump tweeted from the President of the United States' (POTUS) official handle hours ahead of Modi's visit. 

Except for acknowledging "challenges" in the trade sphere (including the guest worker visa issues), everything that a senior White House official said at a background preview of the visit echoed the policies of previous Obama and Bush administrations: Supporting the global rise of India and its role in Asia-Pacific; seeing it as a force for good; acknowledging its positive role in Afghanistan and its problem with Pakistan on the terrorism front; enhancing defence, security, and intelligence cooperation.

In fact, amid moves in Washington to further curtail aid to Islamabad and rescind the 'major non-Nato ally' status given to it, the White House official rejected the idea that the US military supplies to India had any bearing on Pakistan.



"We seek to have an effective partnership with each country. With India, we're building that strategic partnership. We see India's role and influence growing. We like to encourage that trend," the official said, adding, "With Pakistan, we seek to have a productive partnership working together. But frankly, the priorities are different, and the nature of the relationships are different," the official said.

The Obama and Bush administrations had similarly de-hyphenated India and Pakistan while seeing Pakistan as a delinquent problem state, but the articulation has since become sharper amid punitive moves in Congress against a one-time ally.

The official also dismissed the notion that the Trump administration was according more importance to China while sidelining India. Defence, military, intelligence and security cooperation will form a large section of the bilateral agenda, the official said, while playing down the visa spat and suggesting it did not form the main part of business between the two 

Besides meeting Trump and his cabinet colleagues, Modi has a meeting with American CEOs on Sunday morning, and will engage with the Indian-American diaspora on Sunday afternoon.

 

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