India, US Eyeing To Ink Five Pacts During Donald Trump's Maiden Visit

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Boosting counter-terror cooperation, deepening engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, augmenting defence and trade ties and India's concerns over H1B visas are expected to figure in talks between Trump and PM Modi

Written By Digital Desk | Mumbai | Updated On:
India

India and the US are eyeing to sign around five pacts providing for cooperation in areas of intellectual property rights, trade facilitation and homeland security during President Donald Trump's maiden visit to India next week, the External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday. Boosting counter-terror cooperation, deepening engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, augmenting defence and trade ties and India's concerns over H1B visas are expected to figure in talks between Trump and PM Modi, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

"India is eagerly awaiting President Trump's visit and it will strengthen the bilateral global strategic ties," he said. "Overall, our global strategic partnership will be further strengthened," Kumar said, when asked about the expected outcome of the visit. He said around five MoUs are under discussion for finalisation during the US president's visit. The pacts will cover intellectual property rights, trade facilitation and cooperation in areas of Homeland Security.

On Wednesday, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved two big ticket deals -- one on procuring 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters at a cost of USD 2.6 billion and six AH-64E Apache helicopters for USD 800 million from the US. Both the deals are expected to be sealed during Trump's visit. Kumar said there could be some announcements on expanding defence cooperation during the visit by the US president.

Asked whether India will raise the issue of cross-border terrorism during the talks, Kumar said strong counter-terror cooperation between the two countries was evident after the Pulwama attack last year. When asked about the expected outcome of Trump's visit, Kumar said it should be seen in the context of reaching a certain stage of maturity in the relationship. Talking about defence cooperation, Kumar said both sides have initiated a joint tri-services exercise named Tiger Triumph as an annual drill.

Asked about the status of civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries, he said US firm Westinghouse and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) are in discussion to build six 1,100 MW capacity reactors at Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh.

"Following resolution of Westinghouse's bankruptcy issues, the two sides are in discussion regarding the division of responsibility of the work. NPCIL has visited the US reference plant to understand Westinghouse's modular construction methodology," Kumar said. Asked about possible cooperation in the area of space, he said the two sides are cooperating in Mars exploration, heliophysics, and human spaceflight.

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"On commercial front, ISRO has launched 209 satellites from the US, on-board PSLV, as co passengers. ISRO and NASA are together building a microwave remote sensing satellite with dual frequency (L and S band) Synthetic Aperture Radar," he said. "NASA will contribute L-band Radar, while ISRO will contribute S-band Radar and the satellite. This joint mission is planned to be realised for launch in 2022. This is the world's first dual frequency SAR satellite," he said.

The MEA spokesperson said ISRO is also working with US government agencies for cooperation in safety of spaceflight through exchange of situational awareness information. Asked about the US President's comments, Kumar said it is important to understand the context in which the remarks were made. The context was balance of trade and efforts have been made to address concerns, he said. 

Trump's itinerary

PM Modi is scheduled to host a lunch for Donald Trump, a day after recieving him at the airport. While President Ram Nath Kovind will be hosting a banquet in honour of the US President. For his visit, more than 10,000 police personnel, including 65 assistant commissioners, 200 inspectors and 800 sub-inspectors, will be deployed at strategic locations in the city, deputy commissioner of police (control room) Vijay Patel said. Here is Donald Trump's iteranary for his two-day visit on February 24-25. 

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February 24

  • US President Donald Trump is scheduled to arrive at the Ahmedabad airport at around noon, wherein he will be recieved by PM Modi. 
  • PM Modi and Donald Trump will hold a roadshow in Gujarat on February 24 for which 10,000 police personnel, to be led by 25 senior IPS officers will be deployed. Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and PM Modi will travel along a 22-km long route, starting from the Ahmedabad. International Airport to Sabarmati Ashram, and then to Motera stadium via Indira Bridge. 
  • The US President and US first lady will be spending an hour in Agra's Taj Mahal, before coming to Delhi. 

February 25

  • Upon his arrival in New Delhi, Trump will receive a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhawan as per protocol.
  • The US President is then scheduled to visit New Delhi's Raj Ghat and pay his homage to Mahatma Gandhi. 
  • Following that, Trump and PM Modi will hold extensive talks on February 25 on a range of issues, including defence and trade. Reportedly, India and US were not keen on finalising a trade deal, thus both sides will take a decision on it considering a long-term view. Some defence deals may fructify during Trump's visit, the sources said.
  • PM Modi will host a lunch for the US President, following which the leaders will hold a media interaction. 
  • Trump will then attend events at the US Embassay, including a business summit.
  • Trump's visit will conclude with an early banquet dinner hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind, following which he will depart for Washington.

President Trump is also expected to meet executives of Indian companies who have considerable business interests in the United States during his visit to the capital at the US embassy in New Delhi. The companies expected to attend the US Embassy talks include the Indian oil and gas company Reliance Industries, Tata Sons, Bharat Forge, Mahindra, and Mahindra. 

(With PTI inputs) 

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