NEW DELHI: Narendra Modi and Donald Trump are expected to break the ice with a personal dinner meeting which will be an important event as both leaders will get an opportunity to take a measure of the other, reports Times of India.
Trump and Modi will hold their official talks on June 26 in a familiar routine: restricted talks followed by delegation level talks, a meeting with CEOs and a press conference.
Modi will be doing a modest diaspora event a day before in Washington DC itself.
Earlier, there was talk of him going to Houston in response to an invitation by Texan legislators and the huge Indian diaspora in that state. But the US of 2017 is not as immigrant friendly as it was until last year, when Modi could wow US politicians with his own rallies.
Answering a question, MEA spokesperson, Gopal Baglay told journalists on Friday, “We had indeed looked at some options... but with the overall time factor, we don’t have the flexibility. But, in Washington DC, he will have a community interaction.”
The meeting with the US and Indian CEOs may be part of the official programme.
But the US-India Business Council has an event planned on the morning of the 27th with apparently US vice-president Mike Pence among the attendees.
Sources said the event was crafted with the intention of having Modi there as chief guest, but there appears to be some crossed wires between the business body and the Indian government.
As a matter of fact, Modi is not even in the US on the 27th, since he would be in the Netherlands on a working visit.
So far, Modi’s engagement with the Congress too is minimal, though that could change as the visit comes closer. In his last visit, Modi had delivered a very successful address to both Houses of Congress.
While the reduced engagement could be due to Congress’ preoccupation with domestic upheavals, it has been felt that India should engage more closely with the legislature, which would be important if Congress considers new laws on tech visas or immigration, which might have an impact in India.
The visit has a strong geo-political content, while things appear to be somewhat up in the air on economic issues.
There will be some strong shared sentiments on combating terrorism, and some sources expect progress on greater cooperation in maritime security particularly in the Indian Ocean.
In some sense, India and US might have to walk down a familiar path again, as both sides re-learn to work with each other. Part of the problem is Trump’s mercurial personality — an off-chance remark, or tweet, could upset the optics of the visit. India watchers in Washington are dismayed by what seems to be a lack of attention and capacities by the important arms of the administration, like the State Department.