In New Delhi, US President Donald Trump will make his first official visit to India later this month, capping weeks of speculation on the trip that is hoped to witness the boost of defense cooperation and signing of a trade pact.
In a Twitter post, the White House said, “President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS will travel to India from February 24-25 to visit Prime Minister @narendramodi! The trip will further fortify the US-India strategic partnership and emphasize the strong and enduring bonds between the American and Indian people.”
New Delhi, on its part, said Trump’s 2 days, 2 cities visit would further bear the strategic partnership between the 2 democracies. Trump will be the 4th consecutive US president to visit India since Bill Clinton’s trip in 2000. Clinton’s successor, George H.W. Bush, visited in 2006 and Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, came twice in 2010 and 2015.
Trump’s visit has raised hopes that both countries will work out a limited trade deal to diminish India’s trade surplus with the US. Once at $30 billion, the surplus in India’s favor has now narrowed to $16 billion, said, Indian government officials. Bilateral trade in 2018 stood at an estimated $142.1 billion.
New Delhi is expected to approve a $2.6 billion deal for military helicopters from US defense contractor India’s Cabinet Committee on Security is likely to clear the order for 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Indian Navy in the days ahead, the official said. The helicopters are expected to be bought under a government-to-government deal through the US foreign military sales route.
On Monday, the US State Department said it had approved an Indian request for an Integrated Air Defence Weapon System for an estimated $1.87 billion.
Coinciding with the announcement of Trump’s trip was a visit by a delegation from the US Nuclear Energy Institute to India starting Monday.
The mission will hold meetings with Indian officials to discuss policy support for US nuclear exports to India, besides promoting US products and services to Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd and other potential customers, the Nuclear Energy Institute said in a statement.