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Modi, Trump to discuss defence partnership, counterterrorism

Washington: Talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump in what would be their first face-to-face meeting would focus on ongoing cooperation, including counter-terrorism and defence partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, besides trade and law enforcement, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said.

Spicer said that talks between the two on Monday 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 Friday.

Modi left New Delhi on Saturday on a three-nation tour that will take him to the US, Portugal and the Netherlands. He reached Portugal on Saturday ahead of his visit to the US on June 26 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.

On Friday, Jaishankar met US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and both sides focused on areas of convergence.

Indian envoy to the US 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.

Sarna also expressed the hope that the visit will provide sufficient time for Modi and Trump to get to know each other.

He said that India is major defence partner of the US and both countries have a robust defence and security relationship.

In a pre-departure statement, Modi on Friday said he will hold in-depth discussions with Trump during his visit and hoped to build a forward-looking vision for partnership with the new administration.

The Prime Minister said that apart from his official meetings with Trump and his Cabinet colleagues, he will meet some prominent American CEOs and the large Indian diaspora.

Former President Barack Obama had called India-US ties the "most defining partnership" of the 21st century. Both leaders had struck a warm personal equation and worked to ease any bilateral irritants.

The Obama administration had accorded India the status of a 'major defence partner'.

According to reports, the US has cleared the sale of 22 American-made Guardian surveillance drones for India ahead of Modi's visit. The deal is estimated to be worth $2-3 billion.

Both sides will also discuss the sale of US fighter jets during the Modi's visit.

Earlier this week, US defence giant Lockheed Martin and India's Tata group signed an agreement to jointly build the F-16 Block 70 fighter in India, in a boost to Prime Minister Modi's 'Make in India' programme.

Under the deal, Lockheed will shift its Fort Worth, Texas plant to India without directly affecting American jobs.

The deal was announced during the Paris Airshow between Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) and Lockheed Martin.

The navies of India, US and Japan also participate in the Malabar exercise.

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