Donald Trump invites Narendra Modi to US as he hails India ‘a true friend’


New Delhi: US president Donald Trump late on Tuesday night described India “a true friend and a partner in addressing challenges around the world” and said he looked forward to hosting prime minister Narendra Modi in the course of the year.

In his first telephone call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trump and Modi “discussed opportunities to strengthen the partnership between the United States and India in broad areas such as the economy and defence,” a White House statement said.

“They also discussed security in the region of South and Central Asia. President Trump and Prime Minister Modi resolved that the United States and India stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the global fight against terrorism,” said the statement.

The Indian government did not give a readout of the conversation between the two leaders but Modi in a series of posts on Twitter said he had a “warm conversation with President @realDonaldTrump late last evening.”

“President @realDonaldTrump and I agreed to work closely in the coming days to further strengthen our bilateral ties,” Modi said.

“Have also invited President Trump to visit India,” he added.

The conversation between the two leaders comes four days after Trump was sworn-in as the 45th President of America. Modi was among the first world leaders to congratulate Trump after his victory in the 8 November US elections.

During his election campaign, India was among the few countries in addition to Israel with whom Trump spoke of strengthening ties if elected to power.

At an event organized by the Republican Hindu Coalition in October, Trump had said that he “looked forward to working with Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” whom he described as “very energetic in reforming India’s bureaucracy.”

“Great man. I applaud him for doing so,” Trump had said. Describing himself as a “big fan of Hindu….a big fan of India”, he had also said that “the Indian and Hindu community would have a true friend in the White House,” if he was elected the President.

Besides Modi, Trump has spoken with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi since assuming office on Friday, according to the White House.

The telephone call with Trump is the second from the White House that Modi has taken in a week. Last Wednesay, outgoing US president Barack Obama had called the Indian prime minister and the two had reviewed bilateral ties. Obama visited India twice in his two-term presidency—in 2010 and 2015. His second visit was as the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations – the first ever invite to a US president to be the chief guest.