Senior White House official

Cheryl Sanders
June 24, 2017

Modi's two-day visit to Washington begins on Sunday.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Gopal Baglay had said Modi's visit to the USA has "its own significance because it will be the first visit of the Prime Minister to engage with the new leader, with the new President (Donald Trump) after the elections last year" in the United States.

"The visit of Prime Minister Modi couldn't come at a more opportune time".

Securing agreement on the purchase of 22 unarmed drones is seen in New Delhi as a key test of defence ties that flourished under former President Barack Obama but have drifted under Trump, who has courted Asian rival China as he seeks Beijing's help to contain North Korea's nuclear programme.

He noted that India's partnership with the USA is multilayered and diverse, supported by not just governments but all the stakeholders on both sides. "For all of these reasons, pursuing stronger ties with India would be a clear win for the Trump administration", Mr Gupta said. "It will also depend on whether the White House can reassure India about some of its major concerns", Mr Gupta said.

"I look forward to meeting Prime Minister Rutte and reviewing our bilateral relations".

On whether the contentious H-1B visa issue would come up for discussion during the meeting, a senior administration official said it was unlikely to be raised from the United States side but if raised by the Indian side, the Americans were ready for it. PTI reported on Thursday the U.S. has already cleared the sale of 22 predator Guardian drones for a price of around $2-3 billion.

The drones deal, combined with Lockheed Martin's recent announcement of a new joint venture with Tata Advanced Systems, signifies the rapid growth of US-India defence ties over the past decade, Lindsey Ford added. I mean, we're only six months into the administration.

According to the report, India must continue to engage with the Trump administration and other stakeholders in the United States.

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