Indian PM Modi leaves for three-nation tour to 'deepen bilateral ties'
The Indian Prime Minister will also meet prominent American CEOs and interact with the Indian diaspora in US. Photograph: (Reuters)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for Portugal on Saturday morning and will reach the United States the next day (June25).
He will meet US President Donald Trump on June 26.
The two leaders will meet on Monday at around 3:30 pm EST (1 am IST) for the first time. The meeting will last for about 5 hours. The two leaders will end their meeting with a White House dinner, the first by the Trump administration for a visiting foreign leader.
Modi will then visit the Netherlands on June 27.
Speaking before his departure, Modi said that the aim of the US visit is to "build a forward looking vision" for the Indo-US bilateral partnership and consolidate the strong relationship between the two countries.
"My USA visit is aimed at deepening ties between our nations. Strong India-USA ties benefit our nations & the world," he tweeted.
India and the United States came closer during the regime of President Barack Obama owing to a warm relationship shared between the two leaders.
The visit will aim to capitalise on that relationship to further strengthen the ties.
Already on the agenda is the big-ticket defence deal which will see US supplying 22 Predator drones to India. Sources close to the deal have signalled that the entire US administration is positive about the deal.
India is one of United States' biggest defence markets.
On the issue of H-1B visas, the White House said there were no specific plans to raise the issue during Modi’s visit as it was under review.
"On the (H-1B) visas issue, there's no plans for that to come up specifically," a senior administration official told reporters ahead of Modi-Trump meeting at the White House on Monday.
"But if it's raised, I would just note that the administration has signed some executive orders related to work and immigration, and President Trump's executive order on H1-B visas, of course, directs the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security to propose potential reforms to the H1B visa program," the official said.
The official added that there have been no immediate changes in the existing visa policy.
"However there have been no immediate changes to visa application or issuance procedures, so we're not in a position to kind of prejudge what the outcome of the review might be.
So there's really been no changes as such at this point, and no specific changes that target any specific country or sector as of yet.”
Trump and Modi have spoken twice over the phone after the former assumed office in January 2017. This will be their first personal meeting.
The Indian Prime Minister will also meet prominent American CEOs and interact with the Indian diaspora in US.
White House dinner
US President Donald Trump would host him for a dinner at the White House on Monday.
"The White House is very interested in making this a special visit. We're really seeking to roll out the red carpet. In fact, the two (leaders) will have dinner, a working dinner at the White House. This will be the first dinner for a foreign dignitary at the White House under this administration. So, we think that's very significant," a senior administration official told reporters.
Modi will travel to Portugal on Saturday where he will meet the Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
"Building on our recent discussions, we will review the progress of various joint initiatives and decisions," Prime Minister Modi said about his upcoming meeting with Costa.
"We will also discuss ways to further enhance the bilateral engagement, especially in the areas of economic cooperation, science & technology, space collaboration and people to people ties," the Prime Minister added.
In the last leg of his visit, Modi will visit the Netherlands on June 27 where he will meet the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and call on King Willem- Alexander and meet Queen Maxima.
India and the Netherlands share a strong economic partnership. The Netherlands is India's 6th largest trading partner in the EU and 5th largest investment partner globally
"The Dutch expertise in areas such as water and waste management, agriculture and food processing, renewable energy and ports and shipping, matches with our development needs," the prime minister said.