Modi-Trump agree for talks on a ‘big trade deal’

The Asian Age.

India, All India

The two nations inked three pacts meanwhile in the fields of safety of medical products, mental health and oil/energy cooperation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump (Photo: AP)

New Delhi: Hailing the Indo-US friendship as the “most important partnership of the 21st century”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his remarks at Hyderabad House, said both leaders had “positively considered every important aspect of this partnership — be it defence and security, energy strategic partnership, technology cooperation, global connectivity, trade relations or people to people relations” and that “increasing defence and security cooperation between India and the US is a very important part of our strategic partnership”. On the important trade issue, Mr Modi also said the two leaders had “also agreed to start negotiations for a big trade deal” while legalising the “understanding” reached between the commerce ministers of the two countries. He added that “India and the United States are committed to openness and fair and balanced trade in the economic sector”. On cooperation in homeland security, PM Modi said “today we have decided to increase our efforts to hold terror supporters responsible.” The two nations inked three pacts meanwhile in the fields of safety of medical products, mental health and oil/energy cooperation.

Sharing PM Modi’s optimism on bilateral ties, US President Donald Trump said, “We think we’re at a point where our relationship is so special with India.  It has never been as good as it is right now and I think that’s because the two leaders of each country — really, we feel very strongly about each other.  And we have — we have done something that’s very unique and we’ve made some wonderful deals for each of our countries.   

President Trump also said both leaders are “revitalising the Quad Initiative with the United States, India, Australia, and Japan”  to “ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific”. He added, “To further strengthen our economic ties, the United States is pleased to announce that the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation will be establishing a permanent presence right here.” On strategic convergence in the Indo-Pacific, the Joint Statement declared, “A close partnership between India and the United States is central to a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.” The statement is being seen as extremely significant in the context of growing Chinese economic and military might.

Addressing the media on Tuesday evening, President Trump said, “We did talk about religious freedom. And the PM (Modi) was incredible on what he told me. He wants people to have religious freedom, and very strongly. And in India, they have worked very hard to have great and open religious freedom. And if you look at what’s going on, relative to other places especially but they have really worked hard on religious freedom. I asked a question in front of a very large group of people today. But we talked about it for a very long time. I really believe that is what he wants. As far as the individual attacks, I heard about it. But I didn’t discuss that with him. That’s upto India.” He added, “We discussed that (religious freedom), specifically Muslims. And we also discussed Christians. I had a very powerful answer from the prime minister. We talked about religious liberty for a long period of time, in front of a lot of people. He told me there are 200 million Muslims living in India. And a fairly short while ago, they had 40 million.”

Meanwhile, in his remarks made earlier at Hyderabad House, President Trump said, “Earlier today, we expanded our defence cooperation with agreements for India to purchase more than $3 billion of advanced American military equipment, including Apache and MH-60 Romeo helicopters — the finest in the world.  These deals will enhance our joint defense capabilities as our militaries continue to train and operate side-by-side.”