New Delhi: US President Donald Trump overnight Wednesday described ties with India as “close” and said he was “grateful” for his friendship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Diwali at White House: Indians are good negotiators, Trump says
At an event to mark Diwali organised at the White House, Trump also said the two sides were working towards a trade deal as he described the Indian side as “very good negotiators.”
The comments come against the backdrop of some tensions in the India US relationship especially on the subject of trade with India having a surplus with the US that Washington is keen on narrowing. The remarks also follow Trump declining India’s invite to be the chief guest at its Republic Day celebrations next year and Washington looking at potential sanctions on India for buying the Russian S 400 air defence system.
But in his remarks overnight Wednesday Trump stressed the positives in the ties and complimented the work done by Indian-Americans in his administration.
“The United States has deep ties to the nation of India and I am grateful for my friendship with Prime Minister Modi,” Trump said flanked by some half a dozen Indian -Americans appointed by him to key positions in his administration and before lighting a ceremonial lamp in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
This is the second consecutive year that Trump has celebrated the largest festival of India and Indian Americans in the White House.
“We’re trying very hard to make better trade deals with India. But, they’re very good traders. They’re very good negotiators. You would say right. The best. So we’re working. And it’s moving along,” Trump said referring to the India-US trade negotiations that have started between the two largest democracies of the world.
“Our relationship ( India-US) can work as a bulwark for freedom,prosperity and peace,” Trump said.
“We are close, closer than ever before…I have great respect for Prime Minister Modi … we will be talking to him soon,” he said in remarks addressed to India’s Ambassador to Washington Navtej Sarna.
Trump’s warm remarks about India comments come on a day when prime minister Modi is set to meet US Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of a Southeast Asian summit in Singapore.
A PTI report from Washington over the weekend quoting a White House official said “sky is the limit” for India’s role in the Indo-Pacific region.
“They (Modi and Pence) would be talking about the bilateral relationship and a defence cooperation in the kind of larger context. I can’t really say if they’ll get into trade (ties) specifically at this time,” a senior administration official was quoted as saying by PTI.