Modi meets Trump for the first time at White House

Both men won power by portraying themselves as establishment outsiders.

President Donald Trump welcomes Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to the White House on June 26, 2017. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
Powered by automated translation

WASHINGTON // Indian prime minister Narendra Modi arrived at the White House on Monday for his first meeting with US President Donald Trump, seeking to build on a recent upturn in ties between the world’s two largest democracies.

Mr Modi was greeted by Mr Trump outside the South Portico of the White House. The two leaders are expected to discuss a range of issues, from trade and climate change to opportunities for partnership on security.

Mr Trump has so far focused on outreach to China as he looks to Beijing to rein in nuclear-armed North Korea. But Washington and New Delhi share concerns about China’s rise as a military power.

Mr Trump and Mr Modi were scheduled to issue joint statements in the Rose Garden following their talks in the Oval Office.

The US president was to later host the Indian delegation for dinner, making Mr Modi the first world leader to receive a White House dinner in his honour.

Mr Trump, who described Modi as a "true friend!" on Twitter after his weekend arrival in the US, should find much in common with the Indian leader, with both men having won power by portraying themselves as establishment outsiders.

Ahead of his first meeting with the US president, Mr Modi hailed the increasing "convergence" of US-Indian interests and values, in an opinion piece appearing in Monday’s Wall Street Journal.

Following a visit to the United States one year ago, when he addressed a joint session of the US Congress, Mr Modi wrote that he returns "confident in the growing convergence between our two nations".

"This confidence stems from the strength of our shared values and the stability of our systems," he wrote.

"In an uncertain global economic landscape, our two nations stand as mutually reinforcing engines of growth and innovation.

"Whenever India and the US work together, the world reaps the benefits."

On Sunday, the Indian leader met with top American executives, painting for them a picture of a business-friendly India with "minimum" governmental encumbrances.

That message is expected to resonate with Mr Trump, who has proposed streamlining what he calls business-hampering US regulations and cutting the budgets of several US government agencies.

"India believes that a strong America is good for the world," Mr Modi told the CEOs.

Despite the upbeat rhetoric, the relationship between the two leaders has hit some initial snags.

Mr Trump accused India of seeking to profit from the Paris climate accord as he announced the US withdrawal from the deal this month – drawing sharp denials from New Delhi.

A proposed overhaul of H-1B visas – used by thousands of Indian software engineers to work in the United States – has also caused concern in New Delhi.

* Agence France-Presse and Associated Press