Trump and Modi meeting Win McNamee/Getty Images

Trump’s Surprisingly Strong Start with India

Heading into the recent meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump, expectations were modest. Yet the leaders of the world’s two most populous democracies ended up making important headway on strengthening the bilateral relationship.

WASHINGTON, DC – Heading into the recent meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump, expectations were modest. Even the Indian government played down Modi’s trip to the White House as a “no-frills” visit. Yet the leaders of the world’s two most populous democracies ended up making important headway, demonstrating the power of diplomacy to transform challenges into opportunities.

The US-India relationship, despite having become closer, has been burdened by mutual misgivings as of late. For the Trump administration, concerns have focused on issues such as the growing bilateral trade deficit, the displacement of US workers by Indian information-technology professionals, and India’s alleged use of the Paris climate agreement to extract billions of dollars in assistance.

India, for its part, has been increasingly worried about the Trump administration’s isolationist worldview and, in particular, its apparent retreat from Asia, where the US has been a key guarantor of security for the last 70 years. These perceptions dampened hopes that India and the US would continue to regard each other as reliable strategic partners.

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