US President Donald Trump will speak to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone on Tuesday, according to the White House. The two leaders are scheduled to speak at 11 PM Indian time, which is 1 PM Washington time.
Trump has reportedly till now spoken to four world leaders, including the UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since Jan 20.
Modi was among the first world leaders to have congratulated Trump after the New York billionaire was sworn in as the 45th American president.
The two leaders have been compared extensively in the past, and are believed to have share common security concerns, specifically those relating to terrorism.
In his first speech after being sworn in as American president, Trump said that he would eradicate radical Islamic terrorism, an apparent reference to cracking down on terror groups such as Islamic State.
On the other hand, India has been a vocal critic of “Pakistan-sponsored” terrorism which it says its western neighbour uses against Indian targets to accomplish Islamabad’s foreign policy objectives. Islamabad denies that it backs militant Islamist groups against India.
New Delhi may well hope that it can successfully lobby for UN sanctions against Pakistan for their alleged role in supporting terrorism under a Donald Trump presidency. Until now, China has been the main backer of Pakistan and has vetoed India’s efforts in the past to sanction Pakistan-based terror groups.
Both America and India are also wary of China’s spiking military activity in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. Previous US President Barack Obama had devised a strategy to bolster an alliance of US, India, Japan and Australia as part of his “Pivot to Asia” policy reportedly to check China’s growing hegemony. Obama’s critics say that his policy wasn’t assertive enough to check China, as Beijing continues to deploy advanced weapons on its man-made islands in the South China Sea.
India may be hoping for a better outcome under Donald Trump, at least in the Indian Ocean where Beijing is building several ports and trying to gain a naval foothold.
There are some potential points of friction between the two countries, mainly arising from Trump’s protectionist stand on free trade, which many experts in India believe could affect Indian IT companies ability to source workers on H-1B visa. Nearly 60 percent of India’s IT revenues come from the US, according to an estimate.
However, Modi and Trump got off on the right foot during the US presidential campaign trail last year. Trump had gushed about the Indian Prime Minister at an event organised by an Indian-American group.
Trump was quoted as saying, “Under a Trump Administration, we are going to become even better friends, in fact I would take the term better out and we would be best friend.”
“We are going to have a phenomenal future together.”