Donald Trump will finally meet his “true friend” Narendra Modi on Monday (June 26).
The US president will host a working dinner for the Indian prime minister, a first by the Trump administration for a visiting dignitary. On the table will be a number of issues ranging from terrorism and regional security to trade and visas.
Modi’s White House visit comes a year after he travelled to Washington to meet Trump’s predecessor. Barack Obama and Modi had shared a visible camaraderie—even described as bromance—that helped further Indo-US ties. Modi, in all likelihood, will seek to forge a similar relationship with Trump.
Quartz spoke to foreign policy experts to understand what could be expected out of the meetings. Here are their responses:
What do you think the meeting on Monday will be all about?
Milan Vaishnav, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:
Defence is the sector to watch. This is where cooperation has seen steady progress over the last few administrations. I would not look for big new deliverables in other areas. Energy is one possible exception, with India keen to have access to US LNG imports.
Constantino Xavier, fellow at Carnegie India:
Across various sectors, whether defence deals or trade and investments, the question is whether Modi and Trump will be able to strike the right balance between their respective “Make in India” and “America first” campaigns. It is likely that Trump will accord the DoD (department of defense) significant autonomy to continue engaging India on strategic and security issues.
Do you think Modi will bring up the H-1B visa issue with Trump?
I think Modi will bring H-1B up, though he is not likely to press Trump too far to reverse his administrations executive order. Rather, I think Modi will emphasise two things. First, any future changes in the visa regimes should be predictable and communicated to India in advance, both for citizens and firms. Second, Modi will highlight the win-win nature of labour mobility; Indian IT companies have invested billions of dollars in the United States and they have announced new plans to increase local hiring in the coming years.
What could they discuss about South Asian security and terrorism?
Trump and Modi are expected to see eye-to-eye on combating terrorism, so we should expect a deepening of intelligence sharing mechanisms, which India has been very keen on. The US president will also be inclined to further delegate responsibilities to New Delhi in managing the Indian Ocean.
On Afghanistan, while it is unlikely that India will increase its commitments there, the ball will be in Washington’s court to convince India that there is still hope to stabilise the country and minimise Pakistan’s influence over the Taliban. Trump’s commitment to revive the New Silk Road is a positive indication for India.