Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump are expected to announce the deal that sells unarmed surveillance drones to India by the US firm General Atomics at their joint statement today, and it is expected that the Congress would also be notified of the deal today. This will come ahead of the six hour long meeting between the two premiers at the White House, where the Indian prime minister is expected to raise the difficult issue of the restrictions placed on H-1B visas, which limit the ability of Indian IT professionals to work in the US anymore. These tightening of restrictions have hit the Indian IT industry hard, and Modi will be expected to raise this issue when he has the one-on-one with the unpredictable Trump. Also on the cards will be the issue of climate change – Trump, announcing plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, had accused India and China of profiting from the climate agreement. India, on its part, has openly defied Trump by reinforcing its commitment to the Paris treaty. India will doubtless seek support for the treaty, although any change on two two matters in unlikely. President Trump had called Modi a “true friend” on Twitter, and Modi had tweeted back at him but this show of friendship is unlikely to translate into any real gains for the Indian side.
The drone deal will be closely watched by both China and Pakistan, who have been concerned about the growing defence ties between the US and India. India had moved many a steps closer to the US during the Obama days, where administrators saw the country as a strategic counter to China in the region. These policies have soured in the Trump administration, but the two nations have come too far to go back now.
Modi also today met 20-odd business leaders in Washington DC, including Sundar Pichai, Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook in an effort to hard sell the Indian economy to potential investors. “Terrific meeting with Narendra Modi. Always impressed, energised by optimism and invention in India. Excited to keep investing and growing,” Bezos said on Twitter, after the meeting.