Trump may visit India in first half of 2018

Trump may visit India in first half of 2018

Indian and American diplomats are in touch to schedule the US President Donald Trump's visit to New Delhi sometime in the first half of 2018.

Even as Trump's daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump is set to visit Hyderabad to take part in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, New Delhi and Washington are exploring possibility of a visit by the US President to India, possibly within the first few months of 2018, sources told DH.

Trump recently had a 12-day tour to five nations - Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, China and Philippines - in Asia, but his itinerary did not include India. He, however, had a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Manila on November 13, when both leaders were in the capital of Philippines to attend the US-ASEAN and India-ASEAN summits respectively.

Prime Minister reiterated his invitation to US President to visit India during the meeting in Manila.

Trump told Modi that he was looking forward to visit New Delhi. Both sides agreed to discuss the dates for the visit through diplomatic channels, sources told DH.

Trump took over as the US President on January 20. Modi visited Washington in the last week of June for his first meeting with the new US President.

The invitation Prime Minister extended to the US President on June 26 was renewed and reiterated during the recent meeting in Manila.

Apart from Modi-Trump meetings, India and the US had several high-level engagements in the past 10 months since the new administration took over in Washington. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, Prime Minister's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu visited the US and met their counterparts. Piyush Goyal too visited the US, when he was holding the power portfolio before being shifted to the Ministry of Railways. So did petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

The US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis came to New Delhi in September and met Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. He was preceded by Trump's National Security Advisor Gen (Retd) H R McMaster, who visited New Delhi in April.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sideline of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. Tillerson last month came to New Delhi for another meeting with Swaraj. He also called on Prime Minister.

Swaraj and Sitharaman will meet Tillerson and Mattis again for the first round of newly-instituted 2+2 dialogue.

Foreign Secretary and External Affairs Minister are also likely to visit Washington to prepare for the US President's visit to New Delhi.

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