Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first meeting with President Donald Trump, scheduled for June 26 in Washington, DC, is unlikely to yield any tangible results, predicted Indian American community leaders and policy analysts.
“There are more negative outcomes at stake than positive ones. We’re hoping to avoid an escalation of tensions,” Richard Rossow, senior advisor and Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told India-West.
Indiaspora founder M.R. Rangaswami predicted that the meeting could yield an announcement of the next U.S. Ambassador to India, a position left vacant since Jan. 21, when former U.S. Ambassador Richard Verma was asked to step down from the post.
One of the top contenders for the post is Ken Juster, who currently serves as the Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, said Rangaswami.
Sanjay Puri, chairman of the U.S.-India Political Action Committee, predicted that the interaction between the two global leaders would be markedly different from the warm, avuncular relationship Modi shared with former President Barack Obama. “Trump is a more transactional leader — ‘what can you do for me?’ — and Modi has his own agenda,” Puri told India-West.
Amar D. Amar, founder and president of Indian Americans for Trump, disagreed. “The relationship will be better than with Modi and Obama,” he told India-West. “Trump had promised us during his campaign that he will be the best friend India has ever had.”
“Trump is impressed by Modi and believes his style of management is what we should have in the U.S,” said Amar.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced the Trump-Modi meeting at a press briefing June 12. “The president looks forward to discussing the ways to strengthen our ties between the U.S. and India and advancing our common priorities: fighting terrorism, promoting economic growth and reforms, and expanding security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Spicer noted that U.S.-India trade has grown six-fold, from $19 billion in 2000 to $115 billion in 2016. “I think you can expect the two of them to set forth a vision that will expand the U.S.-India partnership in an ambitious and worthy way of both countries’ people.”
Puri predicted the conversation is likely to focus on the defense sector. India is the largest buyer of military equipment from the U.S., and the USINPAC chairman noted that the country’s expansion of its defense capabilities fits right in with Trump’s aim of creating more jobs for Americans.
Puri doubted that Modi will bring up the thorny issue of H-1B visas. The Trump administration has floated a proposal that would completely reformat the H-1B program and eliminate work authorization for H-4 visa holders.
“They are both pragmatic leaders who will look for areas of convergence,” he told India-West, adding that export control and cooperation on fighting terrorism emerging from Pakistan will likely be on the top of the agenda.
Rangaswami said he hoped that the leaders would discuss whether the very successful Security and Commercial Dialogues initiated by the Obama Administration would continue. Under the aegis of the initiative, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Commerce would meet once a year with their counterparts in India, and nail down issues related to trade, defense, joint military exercises, and intellectual property.
Also at stake is the 10th annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which was scheduled to be held in India this year. The White House has not yet announced whether GES will occur this year, or where it is to be held, said Rangaswami.
Indiaspora will be meeting June 26 in Washington, DC, on the sidelines of the Modi-Trump meeting.
Rossow noted there could be room for convergence on defense and energy technology. He noted there is scope for U.S.-India energy cooperation and American content to support India’s ambitious plan of generating energy from alternative sources, despite Trump’s pull-out from the Paris accord on climate change last month.
Amar predicted that much of the conversation would focus on combatting terrorism. “India will ask for Trump’s help in forcing Pakistan to give up terrorism,” he said, noting that Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have an amicable relationship.
Amar predicted that Memorandums of Understanding would be signed in the areas of cooperation in trade, combatting terrorism, and defense technology.
Rossow said a joint statement would be issued, but said it was unlikely that MoUs would be inked at this early stage.
Source – India West