WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump will host his "true friend" Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House today for their first meeting as they look to strike a personal rapport and discuss a range of "strategic issues" of common interest, including trade and counter-terrorism.
Modi and Trump would spend several hours together in various settings including one-on-one and delegation-level meetings, a reception and a working dinner.
"Look forward to welcoming India's PM Modi to @WhiteHouse on Monday. Important strategic issues to discuss with a true friend!," Trump had posted yesterday on his official (@POTUS) Twitter handle.
Modi, in his reply to Trump, thanked him for the "warm personal welcome" and said he was "greatly" looking forward to the meeting and discussions.
The working dinner that Trump is hosting for Modi is the first of its kind under the current US administration.
"During the meeting, the President and the Prime Minister will discuss ongoing cooperation, including counter-terrorism, defence partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, global cooperation, burden-sharing, trade, law enforcement, and energy," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had said.
Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna said the first face-to-face meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Trump will give them an opportunity to look at the entire gamut of Indo-US engagement and to exchange views on issues of global interest.
Prime Minister Modi, in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, said that the logic of the Indo-US strategic ties is "incontrovertible" and the two countries have an overriding interest in securing the world from terrorism, radical ideologies and non-traditional security threats.
In an uncertain global economic landscape, India and the US stand as mutually reinforcing engines of growth and innovation, he said.
He recalled his visit to Washington last June and his address to a joint session of the US Congress, where he said that the relationship between India and America had overcome the "hesitations of history".
"A year later, I return to the US confident in the growing convergence between our two nations," he said.
"This confidence stems from the strength of our shared values and the stability of our systems. Our people and institutions have steadfastly viewed democratic change as an instrument for renewal and resurgence," he said.
Modi said the confidence in each other's political values and a strong belief in each other's prosperity has led to greater engagements between the two countries.
"The logic of our strategic relationship is incontrovertible," Modi said while noting that defence was an area of mutually beneficial cooperation.
On the eve of Modi's US visit, the Trump administration had dismissed reports that it has been ignoring India, saying President Trump realises that the country has been a "force for good" in the world and ties with it were important.
"I think that it would be wrong to say that this administration has been ignoring or not focused on India," a senior administration official had said.
"I think that the US really appreciates India, and I think that President Trump realises that India has been a force for good in the world and that it's a relationship that's important. And I think that will come through in the visit on Monday," the official said.
"Yes, this will be the first opportunity for them to sit down and have a conversation, but I think that this is still fairly early on in the administration," the official said.
On whether the contentious H-1B visa issue would come up for discussion during the meeting, a senior administration official said it was unlikely to be raised from the US side but if raised by the Indian side, the Americans were ready for it.