On June 26th, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with President Donald Trump in the White House to discuss various issues regarding Indo-U.S. relations. President Trump had previously expressed his desire to strengthen America’s relationship with India due to the country’s increasing economic strength and its strategic importance in the fight against terrorism in the region of South Asia.
India has been a vital ally to the U.S. in its efforts to revitalize Afghanistan, a country that continues to suffer from widespread terrorism. During his visit to the White House, Modi gave the following statement: “India and the US have played a crucial role in the redevelopment of Afghanistan and its security. We will have close coordination, consultation and communication to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
Despite disagreeing on several issues, both Trump and Modi both have strong desires to eliminate the threat of terrorism. The meeting between the two leaders comes at a time where Indo-U.S. relations need to be in a more positive state, as terrorist activity continues in South Asia, and North Korea remains to be one of the biggest threats to American security.
Meanwhile, President Trump wants to look to India to implement further sanctions against North Korea, as he has been left unsatisfied with the Chinese President’s, Xi Jinping, handling of North Korea’s missile program. To expand, on June 20th, just six days before meeting with Prime Minister Modi, President Trump wrote the following tweet: “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”
As President Trump and Prime Minister Modi bonded over security and defence, there is some concern stemming from China. Just before Trump’s meeting with Modi, Trump approved a deal worth, approximately, over $2 billion to sell surveillance drones to China’s regional rivals. The drones could be used to help India monitor the Indian Ocean, which has seen a recent uptick in Chinese naval activity.
While Trump’s meeting with Modi served well for Indo-U.S. relations, there may be a slight concern with how their meeting will affect Chinese-U.S. relations. However, the biggest concern regards what the impact will be on U.S.-Pakistani relations. Both India and Pakistan are two countries that have a deep rooted history of conflict that still exists today. Just before their meeting, the U.S. listed Hizbul Mujahideen leader, Syed Salahuddin, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, which was praised by Indian officials. This is because the group, Hizbul Mujahideen, has been responsible for several attacks carried out in the Kashmir Valley, an area that has been heavily disputed between Pakistan and India since 1947. Salahuddin has continued to spread violence in the region, stating that he wants to turn the region “into a graveyard for Indian forces.” During his meeting with Trump, Modi expressed his concerns with Pakistan-based terrorist groups, which carried out a multitude of attacks within India including the 26/11 Mumbai bombings.
Aware of the tense situation between India and Pakistan, a senior White House official issued the following statement: “We don’t see a zero-sum relationship when it comes to the US relationship with Pakistan and the US relationship with India.” Despite these concerns, America and India appear to be successfully capitalizing off of a vastly important relationship. In a time where terrorism rages in South Asia and North Korea aims to expand its missile program, one can only hope that President Trump and Prime Minister Modi will continue to build upon their newly found friendship.
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