Mon, 06 Apr 2020

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb 22 (ANI): Donald Trump will arrive in Ahmedabad, capital of the eastern state of Gujarat, on February 24 as a demonstration of strong and enduring ties between India and the United States that, in parts, have earlier been exemplified by close bond shared between the American President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the State Department said here on Friday (local time).

Divulging his scheduled in one his most awaited tour to South Asia, the Department said after arriving in Ahmedabad, the President is scheduled to deliver a speech at the newly built Sardar Patel Stadium, in the presence of Prime Minister Modi.

"The visit will focus on several key areas, including building economic and energy ties between India and the US. Just to note that two-way trade in goods and services exceeded $142 billion in 2018, and there's certainly much more room to grow, particularly in energy," the Department officials said at a weekly briefing while recalling the Strategic Energy Partnership that was launched by Trump and Modi in 2017 that further facilitated Indian imports of American crude oil, LNG, and coal.

As per the schedule, the President, who will be embarking on his official two-day visit to India, along with First Lady Melania Trump and Prime Minister Modi will visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.

With the President and the First Lady, there will be a 12-person official delegation that includes US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and senior advisors to the President daughter Ivanka Trump as well as son-in-law Jared Kushner among others.

The team will then fly to New Delhi and receive a ceremonial welcome, attend bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister on Tuesday, apart from holding a business event with Indian investors, with a special focus on companies that are investing in manufacturing in the US.

Trump will also have a meet-and-greet with the American embassy staff and a meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind that will further follow a state dinner at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday evening.

The Department said that the visit will focus on defence and security cooperation to both fight terrorism and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific. "The US wants an India that is strong, with a capable military that supports peace, stability, and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region. Indeed, India is a pillar of our Indo-Pacific strategy, and we continue to work together to promote this vision of a free and open international system based on market economics, good governance, freedom of the seas and skies, and respect for sovereignty," it added.

As per his itinerary, the American President will hold talks over religious freedom and the shared tradition of democracy.

"Prime Minister Modi, in his first speech after winning the election last year, talked about how he would prioritise being inclusive of India's religious minorities. And, certainly, the world looks to India to maintain religious liberty and equal treatment for all under the rule of law," it stressed.

While the long-awaited trade agreement appears to be off the table during Trump's upcoming visit to India, "significant commercial" deals are in the offing, according to a senior administration official.

"We have a number of significant commercial deals, which are of great significance that we are very pleased to announce in a number of key sectors," the official said.

Replacing US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, who has been piloting the trade deal negotiations, Ross will be included in Trump's delegation.

The official said that revoking the special concessions to some Indian imports under the General Scheme of Preferences (GSP) "was really the failure of the Indian government to provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors".

The official did not expect it to be reinstated unless there was reciprocal action by India.

"Our trade teams led by USTR have been in touch with their counterparts over the past several weeks. That engagement will continue," the official said. (ANI)

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