|By Nilova Roy Chaudhury||January 2017|
New Delhi. Within days of assuming office, US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India late Tuesday, January 24, and said India was “a true friend.”
The phone call from the 45th President of the United States was only his fifth to world leaders since he took office on January 20, and is clearly indicative of the bipartisan warmth and substance in the US – India partnership, official sources told India Strategic.
President Trump chose to call Prime Minister Modi before he called heads of traditional allies from NATO countries and even Japan. Since he assumed office January 20, President Trump has called the prime ministers of Canada and Mexico, the US’ immediate neighbours, the Israeli Premier and the Egyptian President before he spoke with the Indian Prime Minister.
Calls to heads of P-5 countries, including Britain and Russia, have not yet happened.
During the 10-minute phone call shortly before midnight (Indian time) January 24, the President emphasized that the United States considers India “a true friend and partner in addressing challenges around the world,” according to a White House readout of the conversation.
President Trump and Prime Minister Modi discussed opportunities to strengthen the partnership between the United States and India in broad areas such as the economy and defense. They also discussed security in the region of South and Central Asia.
The two leaders resolved that the United States and India stand shoulder to shoulder in the global fight against terrorism. President Trump looked forward to hosting Prime Minister Modi in the United States later this year.
The tenor of the conversation was in consonance with President Trump’s consistent campaign references to India, when he said both countries would be “best friends.” He even emulated a part of Mr Modi’s campaign slogan, saying “Ab ki bar, Trump sarkar,” (“This time, a Trump government”), winning him considerable support within the Indian American community.
Mr Modi was among the first world leaders to call and congratulate Mr Trump soon after he won the presidential election on November 9, 2016.
The India-US strategic partnership has significantly grown over the past decade, in “every sphere of human endeavour,” a senior official said. The growth trajectory in the defense relationship has been extremely significant, bringing the two countries to the closest point ever.
President Trump’s cabinet shares his view of relations with India. At his congressional confirmation hearing last week, Gen. James Mattis, the new US Secretary of Defense, said, “India is the world’s largest democracy, and our relationship with it is of the utmost importance. In my view, and particularly on security and defense issues, the US-India relationship has been strengthened in recent years. Cooperation on defense trade and technology has grown to the benefit of both countries under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative. US policy should continue to pursue a long-term strategic relationship with India based on the convergence of our interests and our shared democratic values,” Mattis told the US Congress.