Modi arrives in U.S. to cheering crowd, talks on defense, trade, counterterrorism on cards with President Trump

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Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives warm welcome by the people of Indian community, on his arrival at Joint Base Andrews, Washington D.C., on June 24, 2017. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Washington, D.C. from Portugal June 24 night, to a cheering crowd at Willard Intercontinental hotel, just blocks from the White House. This is the second leg of his three-nation tour, that will also take him to the Netherlands.

“Touchdown! Wait is over, Celebrations begin! PM @narendramodi on US soil,” the Indian Embassy in the US tweeted, according to a news report in Indo Asian News Service.

Press trust of India reported a crowd of Indians and Indian-Americans greeted Modi and set up a chant as his motorcade pulled up, “Modi! Modi!. Modi stepped out of his car and walked over to the crowd across the road smiling nd waving at them, PTI reported.

“Look forward to welcoming India’s PM Modi to @WhiteHouse on Monday. Important strategic issues to discuss with a true friend!” President Donald Trump tweeted the day before Modi’s arrival.

In a briefing before his arrival in the U.S., the White House said the focus of the meetings would be defense and security, including defense trade, and some new counter-terrorism initiatives. This would be the two leaders’ first one-on-one meeting, which the White House said will deepen the existing relationship, a senior White House official said. The contentious H-1B visa would not be the highlight of discussion, the White House indicated. White President Trump has signed Executive Orders to tighten the visa for high-skilled foreign workers, no change has come about on the regulations governing the H-1B and no specific country had been targeted the senior official said in the background briefing.

Modi is expected to have day-long meetings with Trump, including a reception and dinner. He will also be meeting the Indian community at an event in Virginia during his visit.

Spicer said that talks between the two leaders on Monday, June 26, would be “robust”.

“… The President and the Prime Minister will discuss ongoing cooperation, including counterterrorism, defence partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, global cooperation, burden-sharing, trade, law enforcement, and energy. I think it’s going to be a very robust discussion,” he said at his regular briefing on June 23.

Modi left New Delhi on Saturday on a three-nation tour that took him first to Portugal. He reached Portugal on Saturday ahead of his visit to the U.S. and will visit the Netherlands on June 27 on the way back home.

Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar flew into Washington ahead of Modi’s visit to meet senior officials in the Trump administration and to lay the groundwork for the Modi-Trump meeting, IANS reported. On June 23, Jaishankar met Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and both sides focused on areas of convergence.

India’s ambassador to the U.S. Navtej Sarna has termed Modi’s visit a “great opportunity for the two leaders to know each other”. He said Modi will meet the top 20 CEOs of the US during the visit, IANS reported.