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Trump seeks to spotlight ‘great’ friendship with India’s PM Modi as he embarks on visit


Trump seeks to spotlight ‘great’ friendship with India’s PM Modi as he embarks on visit

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Photo: AP

US President Donald Trump will be hosted by his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad today for the start of a two-day state visit.

The White House sees India as an important strategic counterweight to China in the Indo-Pacific. However, recent trade tensions—India hiked tariffs on 28 US products in June last year after Washington withdrew certain trade privileges—underline the lack of agreement between the two powers due to both administrations’ protectionist instincts. Regardless, India sees the long-term US strategic relationship as important, particularly in countering an increased Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean, waters that New Delhi views as its sphere of influence.

In the absence of a major trade deal, expect both leaders to conclude a series of smaller agreements for India to buy $3.5 billion in military equipment. This includes the sale of Lockheed Martin and Boeing military helicopters. Other equipment purchases include an anti-missile defence shield for New Delhi, the national capital.

The purchase of 24 MH-60 naval helicopters will greatly boost India’s submarine-hunting capabilities; in particular, the ability for India to detect Chinese submarines operating in the Indian Ocean under the purported guise of anti-piracy patrols off the Somalian coast. These US-India defence deals will likely maintain India’s naval primacy vis-à-vis China in the Indian Ocean for the immediate future.

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