Trump, Modi hope talks lead to phase one of U.S.-India trade deal: White House

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Al Drago

(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have agreed to “promptly” conclude ongoing trade talks that they hope can lead to the first phase of a bilateral U.S.-India trade deal, the White House said.

The statement follows Trump’s visit to India on Feb. 24-25, during which the U.S. president clinched the sale of $3 billion of military equipment sale to India.

“They (Trump and Modi) agreed to promptly conclude the ongoing negotiations, which they hope can become phase one of a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement that reflects the true ambition and full potential of the bilateral commercial relations”, the White House said http://bit.ly/37YDP4q late on Tuesday, giving no details on what would be included in the deal.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump criticized India for its high tariffs.

“India is probably the highest tariff nation in the world,” he said.

Ahead of his trip, negotiators from the two sides wrangled for months to narrow differences on farm goods, medical devices, digital trade and new tariffs.

“If the deal happens with India it will be at the end of this year and if it doesn’t happen then we will do something else,” Trump said on Tuesday.

The U.S. president said the United States wanted to be treated fairly and given reciprocal access to India’s market.

Separately, his trip coincided with violent clashes in the Indian capital of Delhi between Hindu and Muslim groups over a new citizenship law in India, with the violence resulting in many deaths.

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