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Homeland security to IP rights, Donald Trump visit to help seal five pacts

A man applies finishing touches to paintings of US President Donald Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a wall as part of a beautification along a route that Trump and Modi will be taking during Trump's upcoming visit, in Ahmedabad.  (REUTERS)Premium
A man applies finishing touches to paintings of US President Donald Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a wall as part of a beautification along a route that Trump and Modi will be taking during Trump's upcoming visit, in Ahmedabad. (REUTERS)

  • Discussions are slated to span the gamut of bilateral, regional and global issues
  • Another pact expected to be signed is the $2.6 billion deal for 24 Seahawk helicopters for the Indian Navy

NEW DELHI : India and the US are likely to finalize five pacts, including on trade facilitation, homeland security and intellectual property rights, after talks between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi next week.

India is looking forward to strengthening the India-US strategic global partnership during Trump’s 24-25 February visit, with discussions slated to span the gamut of bilateral, regional and global issues such as trade, strategic topics, counterterrorism and the Indo-Pacific region, said Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar.

Kumar did not give details of the five pacts but said they were expected to shore up cooperation in counterterrorism and intelligence gathering, as well as remove irritants in commercial relations. India tightening the intellectual property rights regime would be a step towards addressing US concerns on a matter pending between the two countries for decades, according to officials. India was among 10 countries placed on a Priority Watch List by the US Trade Representative’s office for IP violations in April 2019, according to news reports.

Another pact expected to be signed is the $2.6 billion deal for 24 Seahawk helicopters for the Indian Navy.

Trump’s visit next week is the first ever stand-alone trip by a US president to India. Officials and analysts pointed to warming ties between the two countries, with the visit by Trump being the fifth presidential visit to India in the past two decades. In contrast, India had seen only three US presidential visits between 1947 and 2000.

Modi and Trump have had eight meetings so far since the US president assumed office in January 2017. Five of these have happened over the past eight months.

One of the highlights of Trump’s 36-hour visit is expected to be a joint public event, Namaste Trump, to be held in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. The showpiece event organized by the little-known Donald Trump Nagrik Abhinandan Samiti will feature both Modi and Trump addressing the Motera cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, which has a capacity of more than 100,000. The event will echo the one organized by Indian Americans in Houston for Modi last year.

The visit has to be “seen in the context of reaching a certain stage of maturity in the relationship, regular meetings between the leaders of two democracies, and the growing comfort level between our two countries", said Kumar.

Both Modi and Trump “have personally invested in this relationship", according to Kumar. Over the years, “the canvas of our relationship has expanded to include several new areas", he added.

On the strategic side, “there is growing cooperation in counterterrorism. On the Indo-Pacific, we have established a promising partnership. We expect that the talks will deepen our engagement in these areas. It would also provide an opportunity to exchange views on regional and global issues of shared interests," said Kumar.

With regard to civil nuclear energy cooperation, Westinghouse, now owned by Canada’s Brookfield Business Partners, and India’s Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) are engaged in talks to build six 1,100MW reactors at Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, said the external affairs ministry spokesman.

“Following resolution of Westinghouse’s bankruptcy issues, the two sides are in discussion regarding the division of responsibility of the work. NPCIL has visited the US reference plant to understand Westinghouse’s modular construction methodology."

India and the US in 2008 signed a civil nuclear liability pact that ended more than three decades of embargos on India. Civil nuclear cooperation hasn’t, however, taken off given concerns arising from India’s stringent 2010 civil nuclear liability law, the Fukushima nuclear reactor accident in 2011 and companies such as Westinghouse filing for bankruptcy.

Space has also been an area of cooperation with Indian and US research agencies building a microwave remote-sensing satellite with dual frequency synthetic aperture radar.

Kumar said the two sides had been engaged in discussions on a limited trade pact for some months. “We hope to reach an understanding with an outcome that strikes the right balance for both sides. We do not want to rush into a deal as the issues involved are complicated with many decisions potentially having a real impact on people’s lives and long-term economic consequences. We do not want to create artificial deadlines."

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