US President Donald Trump has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do more to relax trade barriers on Monday even as the United states finalised contracts to supply defence and civil aircraft worth billions of dollars to India.
During talks both leaders took great pains to stress the importance of a strong US-Indian relationship. Trump and Modi also eased themselves with a bear hug on the stage at the Rose Garden.
''I deeply appreciate your strong commitment to the enhancement of our bilateral relations,'' Modi told Trump. ''I am sure that under your leadership a mutually beneficial strategic partnership will gain new strength, new positivity, and will reach new heights.
The United States has now emerged the leading supplier of defence equipment to India, signing contracts worth more than $15 billion since 2008.
Trump, however, stressed the need for more balance in the US-India trade relations in keeping with his campaign promise to expand American exports and create more jobs at home. Last year the US trade deficit with India neared $31 billion.
Trump said he would like a trading relationship that is "fair and reciprocal.''
''It is important that barriers be removed to the export of U.S. goods into your markets and that we reduce our trade deficit with your country,'' he said.
Trump said he was pleased about an Indian airlines recent order of 100 new American planes and that the United States looked forward to exporting more energy, including major long-term contracts to purchase American natural gas. These energy contracts ''are being negotiated and we will sign trying to get the price up a little bit,'' Trump said.
Modi, who came to Washington looking to revitalise an already thriving relationship, had little to take home except the rhetoric on terror.
Modi praised Trump for his business acumen and great leadership for US-India ties, which would lend an aggressive and forward looking agenda to bilateral relations.
Modi, however pointed to Trump's ''Make America Great Again" campaign slogan to stress that his agenda for his country was little different than Trump's. ''I am sure that the convergence of my vision for ''New India" and President Trump's vision for making America great again will add new dimensions to our cooperation,'' he said.
Trump did not mention US differences with India on immigration and the Paris climate accord. ''The future of our partnership has never looked brighter," Trump said as both leaders underscored the importance of the defence and security relationship.
Trump accepted Modi's invitation to visit India, the White House said in a statement, but no time frame was given for the trip.