Trump to visit India on Feb 24, 25 to further strengthen strategic ties: White House
By: Lalit K Jha
Washington/New Delhi, Feb 11 : US President Donald Trump will pay a state visit to India on February 24 and 25 and travel to New Delhi and Ahmedabad, it was announced on Tuesday, with both governments highlighting that his maiden trip would further bolster the strategic ties and the enduring friendship between the peoples of the two countries.
President Trump will be accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump and they will visit India on February 24 25, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
In New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs said President Trump and his wife would pay a state visit to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The announcement from Washington and New Delhi came after Trump and Modi held a telephonic talk over the weekend, Grisham said.
“During a phone call over the weekend, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi agreed the trip would further strengthen the India-US strategic partnership and highlight the strong and enduring bonds between the American and Indian people,” she said.
The President and the First Lady will travel to New Delhi and Ahmedabad, which is in Prime Minister Modi’s home State of Gujarat and played an important role in Mahatma Gandhi’s life and leadership of the Indian independence movement, the White House said in a statement.
Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama travelled to India in 2010 and 2015.
This will be President Trump’s first visit to India, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
During the visit, President Trump and the First Lady will attend official engagements in New Delhi and Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and interact with a wide cross-section of Indian society, it said.
“The global strategic partnership between India and the U.S. is based on trust, shared values, mutual respect and understanding, and marked by warmth and friendship between the peoples of the two countries,” it said.
The relationship has further evolved under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and President Trump, with “significant progress” in all areas including trade, defence, counter-terrorism, energy, coordination on regional and global issues as well as people-to-people ties, the statement noted.
“The visit will provide an opportunity for the two leaders to review progress in bilateral ties and further strengthen our strategic partnership,” the statement added.
Prime Minister Modi and President Trump met last on September 24 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York, their fourth meeting since Modi returned to power for a second term in May last year.
The meeting between Trump and Modi in New York came two days after they met on September 22 in Houston and shared the stage at the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ rally and addressed an audience of over 50,000 Indian-Americans.
The announcement on Trump’s visit to India came hours after the US State Department said it has approved the sale of an Integrated Air Defence Weapon System to India for an estimated cost of USD 1.9 billion.
The Trump Administration has notified to the US Congress of its determination to sell India the Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS), the Defence Security Cooperation Agency said on Monday.
The entire system is estimated to cost USD 1.867 billion, the State Department told the Congress in a notification. It also said the IADWS would help India to modernise its armed forces and to expand its existing air defence architecture to counter threats posed by air attacks.
Reacting to the announcement on Trump’s maiden India visit, leading Indian-American community and business leaders welcomed the decision by the US President.
“President Trump’s trip to India is timely in view of the bilateral trade issues that need to be resolved and in light of the collaborations between the US and India in various realms,” M R Rangaswami, Indian-American philanthropist and head of Indiaspora, said.
Describing it as a significant visit, Mukesh Aghi, president of the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum, noted that the last three American presidents had made trips to India.
“It’s essential to send a message to the region that India is a significant partner and the president values that,” Aghi told PTI.
India has a role to play not only in its immediate neighbourhood, but also in making sure that the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific region is part of the international global order, he said.
The India trip will be Trump’s second overseas visit this year, after a two-day visit to Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos.