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Modi wants Trump to deliver on US visit

March 30, 2017 08:29 IST

Delhi doesn't want Modi to invest his substantial political capital to help Trump without the visit yielding positive results for India.
Archis Mohan reports.

US President Donald J Trump arrives to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress, February 28, 2017. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/Reuters

US President Donald Trump's Monday night phone call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi could pave the way for an early visit to Washington, DC.

The Trump administration is keen to host Modi. But South Block is looking at the potential deliverables from such a visit, particularly on H1B visas.

The PM's political stature has increased manifold after his recent electoral successes, while Trump's presidential tenure has moved from one problem to another.

Delhi doesn't want Modi to invest his substantial political capital to help Trump burnish his image, without the visit yielding positive results for the Indian side.

Modi is scheduled to visit New York to attend the UN General Assembly in September. But, the Trump-Modi telephonic conversation has indicated to South Block, and to those who look at foreign policy issues within the Bharatiya Janata Party, that the Trump administration is keen to host the Indian PM for a bilateral visit in the next couple of months.

Earlier this month, Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar, accompanied by Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia, was in the US.

Last week, National Security Advisor Ajit Kumar Doval was also on a visit to the US.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State Rex W Tillerson also recently spoke over the phone.

In his phone call, Trump congratulated Modi on his recent state election victories, expressed support for his economic reforms and said he had great respect for Indians, and said he looked forward to hosting the PM later this year.

The window for such a visit is available in May, as well as in June after the PM attends the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Kazakhstan in the second week.

The PM's US visit could take place before his visit to Hamburg, Germany, to attend the G20 Summit on July 7-8, and his bilateral visit to Israel around that time.

It will be the first-ever visit by an Indian PM to Israel.

The highlight of his policy changes will be the PM's outreach to the Indian Diaspora there. Israel has 85,000 Jews of Indian origin.

Jews are an influential community in the US, and some of these groups had engaged with Modi even during his time as Gujarat chief minister.

According to a source, Modi's visit to the US before Tel Aviv could help the PM engage with the Jewish community there, which would contribute to the success of his Israel visit.

On Tuesday, the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce urged an early visit to 'sort out the apprehensions' of Indian industry on the negative impact of tightening of visa rules relating to H1B and L1 visas.

Archis Mohan