US Defence Secretary James Mattis called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi here today amid reports that America will sell 22 Guardian drones to India to bolster its surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities.
In an uncertain global economic landscape, India and the US stand as mutually reinforcing engines of growth and innovation, he said ahead of his maiden meeting with US President Donald Trump.
Calling corruption as the root cause for which previous governments were changed in India, Modi said his government has emerged corruption-free in the past three years.
"If I'm elected president, the Indian and Hindu community will have a true friend in the White House, that I can guarantee you", he said at an event in Edison, New Jersey, during the 2016 campaign. But this is for the first time that Trump has hosted a foreign leader for a dinner at the White House.
While Trump may not be big on the idea of setting up shop in India, others - such as Google and Microsoft - are keen to continue doing business there.More news: North Korea releases a puzzling statement on the death of Otto Warmbier
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Apart from business, PM Modi also listed defence as an area of convergence, "Both India and the USA have an overriding interest in securing our societies, and the world, from the forces of terrorism, radical ideologies and nontraditional security threats".
Rick Rossow, an India expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the frictions in US-Indian relations since Trump took office on January 20 added gravity to the meeting.
On Sunday Modi told top American executives that India is a business-friendly country of "minimum government" - a message expected to resonate with Trump, who has proposed streamlining what he calls business-hampering U.S. regulations and cutting the budgets of several United States government agencies.
Later Sunday, at a hotel in Northern Virginia, the prime minister met with almost 1,000 members of the Indian community in America.
The White House refuses to comment on U.S. arms sales before Congress has been officially notified, but a senior administration official underscored that "this defence relationship is extremely important for both countries". Counting overseas, Trump has so far met with 47 world leaders.
The planned 100 smart cities, the massive modernisation of ports, airports, and road and rail networks, and the construction of affordable housing for all by 2022, are not just promises of great urban renewal within India but also of new employment opportunities for the two societies. From the United States side, McMaster visited India in April.