MODI AND TRUMP COMMIT TO ‘FREE AND OPEN’ INDO-PACIFIC REGION
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump and India’s prime minister Narendra Modi have pledged that both countries should have the “world’s greatest militaries” as they discussed bilateral relations and their shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, the White House said.
The leaders met on Monday (13) on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Manila, the Philippines.
“They pledged to enhance their cooperation as major defense partners, resolving that two of the world’s great democracies should also have the world’s greatest militaries,” the White House said.
Trump wrapped up a 12-day marathon trip to Asia on Tuesday, having visited Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam before concluding in the Philippines.
Last week, the president praised India’s “astounding” growth after it opened its economy and also lauded Modi, saying the prime minister had been working successfully to bring the vast country and its people together. Addressing CEOs on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Vietnamese port city of Danang, Trump cited India as one of the countries in the Indo-Pacific region making strides.
“Since India opened its economy, it has achieved astounding growth and a new world of opportunities for its expanding middle class,” Trump said.
“And prime minister (Narendra) Modi has been working to bring that vast country and all of its people as one. And he has been working at it very, very successfully indeed,” the US president added.
Trump also expressed his appreciation that Indian purchases of oil from the United States had surpassed 10 million barrels in recent months, and was confident that stronger energy cooperation will be a “geopolitical and economic game changer” for both countries, his administration indicated.
The first consignment of US crude oil reached India in October and Indian petroleum companies plan to purchase crude oil worth $2 billion (£1.5bn) from the US in the next 12 months.
Modi said he looked forward to hosting a US delegation to the upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Summit, showcasing innovation and collaboration between the two countries. India and the US will co-host the event in Hyderabad in south India at the end of the month. The US delegation will be led by Trump’s daughter Ivanka, also his senior advisor.
Talks between Trump and Modi came after officials of India, the US, Japan and Australia held their first meeting to give shape to the much-talked-about quadrilateral alliance to keep the Indo-Pacific region “free and open”.
India’s foreign secretary S Jaishankar said in Manila on Monday (13) that Modi and Trump undertook “a broad review of the strategic landscape in Asia” without elaborating.