Regional issues, 5G, cross-border terror likely on agenda

The Trump-Modi meet will be second full fledged discussion since American leader took charge in January 2017

Updated - February 25, 2020 04:29 am IST

Published - February 25, 2020 03:01 am IST - NEW DELHI

The U.S. has cautioned India against allowing Huawei to participate in the 5G trials. File

The U.S. has cautioned India against allowing Huawei to participate in the 5G trials. File

The meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday will be the second full fledged discussion since the American leader took charge in January 2017. Several strategically significant issues like the talks on Afghanistan and the Asia-Pacific cooperation have matured ever since the two leaders met for their first detailed meeting in the summer of 2017.

President Trump has personally backed a risky negotiation with Taliban since he appointed Zalmay Khalilzad as the special envoy on Afghanistan in 2018. The much awaited peace deal is expected to be signed on February 29 with the Taliban in Qatari capital Doha and discussions are taking place among mainstream Afghan politicians about the way ahead for the intra-Afghan negotiation.

India has so far maintained silence about the week of peace which is currently under way in Afghanistan but the return of the Taliban as a prominent overground player is expected to test India’s regional network. In a sign of greater regional dialogue, Taliban sources have indicated that they would be willing to engage other global partners following the signing of the agreement with the U.S. on February 29. President Trump’s mention of Pakistan during his speech at Motera stadium on Monday has also raised the prospect that India will highlight key concerns about cross-border terror attacks in Kashmir from Pakistan during the bilateral talks.

Asia-Pacific grouping

The Hyderabad house dialogue is also the first time that India is hosting the U.S. President since it joined the Asia-Pacific grouping in 2017 that includes the U.S., Japan, and Australia. The Asia-Pacific concept has in recent weeks been critiqued by leading Russian diplomats including Moscow’s envoy to India, Nikolay Kudashev. India has so far maintained that the grouping is not particularly focused on any country, however, that did not deter Chinese and Russian sources from criticising the four-country dialogue.

Telecom sector

On the technology front, discussion on the telecom sector, especially on 5G technology, is also expected to feature in the discussion as the U.S. has repeatedly cautioned India about China’s tech giant Huawei and its ability for surveillance. India allowed Huawei to participate in the 5G trials and yet has not indicated its final stance on allowing the Chinese tech major into the Indian 5G market. In the military and security front, apart from the military purchases, sealing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) will be an advancement as the deal has been pending for some time.

Apart from these strategic regional and technological issues, both sides have been in discussion over the dairy sector. According to an industry source, both sides have discussed the possibility of granting U.S. access to the dairy market at the same level as India grants to other countries, on the condition that a certification is provided that the cattle feed was vegetarian only.

(With inputs from Priscilla Jebaraj)

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