Home / News / India /  Key things to watch out for at Hyderabad House talks between US, India

NEW DELHI: Having promised a stronger India-US strategic partnership on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump will hold talks on Tuesday on the entire spectrum of bilateral relations.

Ties between the world’s oldest and largest democracies seem to have overcome the “hesitations of history" — a reference to estranged relations during the Cold War days — to evolve into a genuine strategic partnership with more than 30 dialogues on various subjects, spanning defence to people-to-people ties.

Tuesday’s talks are also likely to send across a clear message of growing congruence of interests between India and the US on major geopolitical developments.

Here’s a look at issues that could be on the agenda as well as key takeaways from the meeting:

1. After Trump, in his Ahmedabad speech, nudged India to resume talks with Pakistan, it is expected that the US president will take up the matter again with Modi on Tuesday. India and Pakistan have not had official-level talks since 2013. Tensions spiralled last year when a suicide bomber belonging to a Pakistan-based terrorist group rammed a car full of explosives into an Indian paramilitary convoy, killing 40 people. With the US looking to sign a sign a peace deal with Taliban on 29 February, Washington will be keen to see India and Pakistan can start some kind of a dialogue. On Monday, Trump had said his administration’s efforts to get Islamabad to reduce support to terrorist groups was paying off. India though is unlikely to be swayed by this argument. It may be recalled that Trump had in the past offered to mediate between India and Pakistan but New Delhi had politely but firmly refused.

2. In his Ahmedabad speech, Trump drew a clear distinction between democratic India and a “nation that seeks its power through coercion, intimidation and aggression" a veiled reference to China though no names were taken. The India-US joint statement is expected to reinforce Indo-US cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. The rise of China is seen by the US and India as a common strategic challenge. While India has an unsettled border with China and views its ties with Pakistan with suspicion, Washington has come to see Beijing as a challenge given China’s military and technological advances. A case in point is the 5G technology developed by China’s Huawei that Washington has warned all its allies to reject. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is another such development that New Delhi and Washington see as a project that puts countries into a debt trap.

3. Though a trade deal has proved elusive, it is expected to be a major topic of conversation between Modi and Trump on Tuesday. India has said it is scaling up energy imports from the US to make sure trade is more balanced and will be looking at buying passenger aircraft from the US to bridge the gap. US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and Indian commerce minister Piyush Goyal are scheduled address an Indian industry forum on Tuesday, with Trump set to address a select round table of business leaders put together by the US embassy in New Delhi.

4. Defence ties between India and the US are likely to get a boost, with the countries expected to sign two pacts worth more than $3 billion for 24 SeaHawk anti submarine helicopters for the Indian many and 6 Apache helicopters for $800 million. “I believe that the United States should be India’s premier defence partner, and that’s the way it’s working out. Together, we will defend our sovereignty, security, and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region for our children and for many, many generations to come," Trump had said in his speech at Ahmedabad. The implication seems clear — the US is looking at a militarily strong India to circumscribe China’s strong and growing presence in the Indo-Pacific. Since 2008, India has bought more than $18 billion worth of US military hardware. The joint statement could see India and the US speaking about concluding the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geospatial cooperation, a key pact that is expected to boost defence ties further.

5. The US and India are likely to sign five pacts in areas ranging from trade facilitation to homeland security after talks between Trump and Modi. A pact on space cooperation is also to be initiated.

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