US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have directed their officials to meet in the coming days to resolve the thorny issues that have cropped up in trade ties between the two countries, an Indian official said Friday.
At a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, the two leaders exchanged views on Iran and the tensions in the Gulf region and also discussed introduction of fifth generation or 5G technology for wireless communications, Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters.
This is Modi’s first meeting with Trump after his re-election to office post the general elections. This was one of Modi’s first engagements on Friday with other meetings lined up with dignitaries like Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and South Korea President Moon Jae-in.
In his opening remarks, Trump said India-US ties had never been closer, setting the stage for the interaction that was described as open, productive and warm.
Gokhale said, there were four issues on the table -- Iran, 5G, trade and defence relations.
On Iran, the two sides agreed to remain in touch to ensure that the situation in the region remained stable, Gokhale said.
Besides issues regarding peace and stability in the region, Modi outlined India’s energy concerns and said although Iran supplied as much as 11% of India’s energy needs, New Delhi had reduced oil imports from the West-Asian country even as it hurt the Indian economy.
Modi said a large number of Indians reside in the region and there were economic interests as well, and “therefore it’s in India’s fundamental interests to have peace and stability in the region". Gokhale said.
The prime minister also noted that India had despatched two of its naval ships to the region for the protection of Indian flagged vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz, a point which President Trump appreciated. Trump on his part said he hoped that oil prices would remain stable and that the US was doing its best to ensure that stability was maintained.
On 5G, Modi told Trump that it was a new area in communication that provided opportunity for collaboration between India and the US. “The prime minister outlined that we are going to be a billion users of this technology and in that sense India is the second largest market in the world. The way India moves, whatever choices India makes essentially determine the way the global trend will go," Gokhale said adding that Modi pointed out the need to collaborate “to see how we can leverage this."
“The billion Indian users and India’s capacity in technology development and start-ups and design and Silicon Valley and its role in development of 5G technology for mutual benefit" was discussed in the meeting, Gokhale said, adding that Modi highlighted the “Make in India" flagship programme in this context.
Trump welcomed the idea and said relevant ministers of the two countries would meet to look at opportunities that the businesses of both sides can leverage and collaborate on.
It was also agreed that trade ministers of both countries would meet at an early date and sort out the contentious issues relating to market access, trade barriers and the trade imbalance.
According to Gokhale, the prime minister referred to the withdrawal of special export privileges accorded by the US to India and the retaliatory step taken by India to impose duties on 28 items the US exported to India as “something that had already happened and that we should now look forward and see how we can resolve some of the issues".
“President Trump welcomed this idea…so we expect now an early meeting – the level will be decided late," Gokhale said, adding it was a “very productive discussion" and a “very open discussion" and “we will take this forward."
The discussion on defence relations was cut short due to other engagements of the two leaders, the foreign secretary added.