US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met for the first time on Monday, seeking to develop a warm relationship despite differences over trade, immigration, and the Paris climate accord.
The two leaders went into their relatively low-key summit looking to bolster the US-India strategic partnership but an equally important goal was simply to break the ice and get to know each other.
First White House dinner
They had one-on-one talks followed by statements to the news media without taking questions. They had then a working dinner, the first time Trump has played host to a foreign dignitary at a White House dinner.
Five US senators signed a letter to Trump expressing concern about violations of religious liberty in India, including discrimination against religious-based aid groups, and asking him to make the issue a top priority during Modi’s visit.
The letter was signed by Republicans John Kennedy, Roy Blunt, Mike Crapo and James Lankford, and Democrat Amy Klobuchar.
Sikh organizations planned a protest in front of the White House on Monday.
While progress is expected in defense trade and cooperation, there are frictions elsewhere between the United States and India.
Trump, who campaigned on an “America First” platform, has been troubled by the growing US trade deficit with India. He has called for reform of the H-1B visa system, which has benefited Indian tech firms.
He set the United States on a path to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and accused India of negotiating unscrupulously for the accord in order to walk away with billions of dollars in aid.
Meanwhile, Indian officials reject suggestions that Modi’s “Make in India” platform is protectionist and complain about the U.S. regulatory process for generic pharmaceuticals and rules on fruit exports to the United States.
They stress the importance of the huge Indian market to US companies and major growth in areas such as aviation, which offer significant opportunities for US manufacturers.
— CNN Today (@cnntoday) June 26, 2017
After the wonderful dinner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi left the White House.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) June 26, 2017