US President Donald Trump’s maiden official visit to India, on February 24 and 25, could see the finalisation of some important defence deals between the two countries, besides a trade pact, suggested reports on Wednesday.
“President Trump and PM (Narendra) Modi will hold extensive talks on Februey 25 on a range of issues, including defence and trade,” said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
Trump will have stops in Ahmedabad and New Delhi during his two-day visit.
Speculations regarding defence deals arose after Trump recently said he was "saving the big deal" with India for later and he "does not know" if it will be finalised before the US presidential elections in November, clearly indicating a major bilateral trade deal during his visit to Delhi might not be on the cards.
Media reports suggested a ‘trade package’ might be in the offing, but both sides did not want to rush into finalising a trade deal, as a decision would be taken considering a long-term view.
Speaking on the Trump visit, Shringla said the US President would be accompanied by a high-level delegation. Trump is scheduled to appear at ‘Namaste Trump’ event in Ahmedabad which Shringla compared to last year’s ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston.
The Foreign Secretary also said: “India and US have unprecedented level of convergence... PM Modi will host a lunch for Trump, while President Kovind will host a banquet,” he said.
Reactions ahead of visit
Vijay Rupani, Chief Minister of Gujarat, tweeted a video ahead of the visit. Trump will be addressing Namaste Trump event in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad.
"The world's oldest democracy would meet the world's largest democracy on February 24. Gujarat will become a witness to this historic journey from the White House (in the US) to the world's largest cricket stadium. It will strengthen US-India relations," says the video, prepared by the state government and featuring a Gujarati voice-over.
A top US diplomat in the previous Obama government, meanwhile, said that Trump will have a triumphant visit to India.
"My expectation will be my guess is that President Trump will have a triumphant visit in Delhi," Kurt Campbell, a former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said.