Trump to visit India in February

COLOMBO (The Island/ANN) - Indian government hopes United States President Donald Trump will announce reinstatement of India’s preferential export GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) status, which was cancelled in June 2019.

United States President Donald Trump is likely to pay a state visit to India on February 24, according to informed sources here and in Washington.

Security and logistics teams from Washington are expected in Delhi this week to prepare for the visit. The visit has not yet been announced yet.

Trump could not come to India last year, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited him to be chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.

Trump will arrive on February 24, unless the dates do not have to be changed to accommodate the impeachment process in the U.S. Senate.

Sources said the decision to visit India, at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation, was discussed during a telephone call between the leaders on January 7. Trump is said to be "keen" to visit early in the year, ahead of the US presidential elections in November. He is seeking a second term.

India’s Ambassador to Washington, who is now the Foreign Secretary-designate Harsh Shringla met Trump before returning here. He will begin preparations from the Indian side for the visit.

Among the agreements likely to be wrapped up during the presidential visit is a trade deal that has been pending since November 2018, when talks went into a standstill.

In June 2019, the US had cancelled India’s preferential export "GSP" (Generalised System of Preferences) status. The government here hopes Trump will announce a revocation of that decision during the visit. India is also expected to announce further investments in the U.S., and a substantial increase in American oil imports from six million tons now to 12 million tons.

A major deal on civil aviation is also being discussed. Other loose ends, like issues with the data localisation bill, e-commerce regulations, granting U.S. airport ground handling access, all of which were part of U.S. demands have already been resolved.

Several senior officials, including U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells and Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger, are now here to attend the Raisina Dialogue, while others are expected to begin talks on preparations.

The Trump visit will be a diplomatic boost for both leaders and will likely coincide with the U.S. Congress’s impeachment process. This week the U.S. House is expected to vote to send its articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate, which will be only the third such impeachment trial for a U.S. President in history.

The visit will also come as Modi faces some of the largest protests his government has encountered over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), as well as international criticism over the government’s continuing restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir.

U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Juster’s decision to travel to Kashmir last week as part of a delegation of envoys is seen as a move to reach out to the government on the issue, even as a U.S. House resolution criticising India on Kashmir, that has now received 36 co-sponsors, could be taken up in the U.S. House.

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