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Trump Lauds Strong Ties But Urges India PM Modi To Ease Barriers For US Exports

Trump Lauds Strong Ties But Urges India PM Modi To Ease Barriers For US Exports
During talks in which both leaders took great pains to stress the importance of a strong U.S.-Indian relationship, U.S. President Donald Trump urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do more to relax Indian trade barriers.
Trump and Modi appeared to get along well at a closely watched first meeting between the two. As the cameras rolled in the Rose Garden, Modi pulled in Trump for a bear hug on the stage.
"I deeply appreciate your strong commitment to the enhancement of our bilateral relations," Modi told him. "I am sure that under your leadership a mutually beneficial strategic partnership will gain new strength, new positivity, and will reach new heights."
But in keeping with his campaign promise to expand American exports and create more jobs at home, Trump made clear he sees a need for more balance in the U.S.-India trade relationship although he was also warm.
He would like a trading relationship that is "fair and reciprocal," Trump said.
"It is important that barriers be removed to the export of U.S. goods into your markets and that we reduce our trade deficit with your country," he said.
The United States looked forward to exporting more energy, including major long-term contracts to purchase American natural gas and he was pleased about an Indian airline's recent order of 100 new American planes, Trump said.
These energy contracts "are being negotiated and we will sign – trying to get the price up a little bit," Trump said.
Indo-U.S. relationship has appeared to flag as Trump courted India's rival China in an effort to persuade Beijing to do more to rein in North Korea and Modi came to Washington looking to revitalize a relationship that thrived under former President Barack Obama.
Modi effusively praised Trump, hailing his "vast and successful experience in the business world" and "great leadership" for U.S.-India ties, which he said should "lend an aggressive and forward looking agenda to our relations."
While no time was given for a visit, Modi said he had invited Trump to India.
In order to stress that his agenda for his country was little different than Trump's, Modi harked back to Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan.
"I am sure that the convergence of my vision for "New India" and President Trump's vision for making America great again will add new dimensions to our cooperation," he said.
U.S. differences with India on immigration and the Paris climate accord were not mentioned by Trump.
"The future of our partnership has never looked brighter," Trump said as both leaders underscored the importance of the defense and security relationship.
At an estimated cost of $366 million, the U.S. State Department has approved the possible sale to India of a Boeing C-17 transport aircraft, a Pentagon agency said even as the two leaders met.
In a deal that would be worth more than $2 billion, the United States had cleared the way for the sale of a naval variant of its Predator drone to India, U.S. defense contractor General Atomics Aeronautical Systems said on Friday.
Signing contracts worth more than $15 billion since 2008, the United States has become the leading supplier of defense equipment to India.
In a first time Trump has played host to a foreign dignitary at a White House dinner, Trump and Modi had a working dinner on Monday evening.
Proof that they are cut from the same cloth was pointed out by the Trump administration officials with respect to both leaders' impact on social media where each has more than 30 million Twitter followers.
"If the chemistry is good, everything else gets sorted," said an Indian official. "The only way is up. How much up we go depends on the leaders. If they click, we go up higher."
High-level engagement had failed to eliminate major barriers to U.S. imports and investment and had not deterred India from imposing new ones, leading U.S. congressmen complained in a letter to Trump on Saturday and therefore trade, however, remains an irritant.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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