Namaste Trump: POTUS visit to India

Daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared to accompany Donald Trump to India

White House Senior Advisors Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend a campaign rally by U.S. President Donald Trump in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., on February 10, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump will be accompanied by his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, senior government officials confirmed, making his India visit beginning Monday, one of the few times that Mr. Trump has travelled officially with so many members of his family. According to the officials, Mr. Kushner was already scheduled to travel as he is an advisor on international relations and Ms. Trump was a “welcome” addition, given her dual role as a presidential advisor as well as a member of the family.

The accompanying family members are expected to make an appearance on stage at the Motera stadium in Ahmedabad, then travel with President Trump to Agra on Monday evening, and would also be present during delegation-level bilateral talks on Tuesday. A series of agreements and MoUs would be exchanged after talks between Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, including an accord on Homeland Security that would cover the setting up of a “counter-terrorism training centre” and a research centre for cyber-security, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. An agreement on space cooperation, a medical cooperation and information sharing pact, which will be particularly relevant in light of the current Chinese coronavirus pandemic, and an accord on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), which has long been an area of discord for the U.S. and India, are also on the anvil, the officials added.

On strategic issues, the two sides are expected to upgrade their 2015 Joint Vision statement for the Indian Ocean Region and Asia-Pacific, which is now referred to as the Indo-Pacific. Mr. Trump’s visit will come days before the signing of a U.S.-Taliban agreement on February 29, and the two sides are expected to discuss future plans for Afghanistan. However, officials said they did not expect an American request for India to be involved militarily, a suggestion that Mr. Trump has made in the past. However, India is expected to press the U.S. to not make a complete pullout of troops from Afghanistan.

Separately, several defence purchase deals, totalling about $3 billion, are expected to be inked. Officials also said that the third defence logistical agreement BECA, which has been delayed, was likely to be taken forward in March at a meeting in Washington.

In addition, several major energy agreements are likely to be signed as India has stepped up purchases of American oil and LNG. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette is expected to be part of the entourage along with senior officials like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Paul Nakasone. In addition to an agreement by Petronet to invest $2.5 billion in U.S. LNG company Tellurian, for which two MoUs were signed last year, an MoU between Exxon and Indian Oil for LNG pipeline infrastructure is also likely to be highlighted during the visit. Officials said they hope to see Westinghouse close its MoU that dates back to 2009 to construct six nuclear power reactors in Andhra Pradesh as well, but there may be changes in the “responsibility” structure given the U.S. company’s issues with the liability for nuclear risks.

Officials conceded that there was some disappointment that the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was now not expected to travel to India, and that a trade deal was not expected, but said that a “limited trade deal is ready”, even if it wasn’t likely to be announced during the visit.

“There is a definite change in the interest from Mr. Trump since Mr. Modi’s re-election,” one official said. “He is investing heavily in this relationship, and there is a recognition of India’s importance. [The joint rally in] Houston also changed his perspective when it came to seeing the power of the Indian population, it has clearly caught his imagination,” the official added.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 2:40:20 AM |

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