President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will visit India on Feb. 24-25, the White House announced Monday.
“The President and The First Lady will travel to New Delhi and Ahmedabad, which is in Prime Minister Modis home state of Gujarat and played such an important role in Mahatma Gandhis life and leadership of the Indian independence movement,” press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
“During a phone call over the weekend, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi agreed the trip will further strengthen the United States-India strategic partnership and highlight the strong and enduring bonds between the American and Indian people,” she added.
The trip would mark Trumps first visit to India as the president.
The White House notice of Trumps visit comes just after the U.S. Department of State on Monday said it approved a possible sale of military equipment to India—an Integrated Air Defense Weapon System (IADWS) for an estimated cost of $1.867 billion.
A release from the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency noted that the proposed sale “will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.–Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.”
“India intends to use these defense articles and services to modernize its armed forces, and to expand its existing air defense architecture to counter threats posed by air attack,” the U.S. statement continued. “This will contribute to Indias military goal to update its capability while further enhancing greater interoperability between India, the U.S., and other allies. India will have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces.”
Reuters reported on Monday, citing unnamed defense and industry sources, that India is set to give final approval to a $2.6 billion sale for military helicopters from U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin.
The Epoch Times reported in November that the U.S.-India strategic defense partnership entered a new phase with both countries engaging in joint training events to enhance military relations and build up skills in disaster response.
Kashish Parpiani, a Research Fellow with Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai, India, told The Epoch Times at the time that Indias Modi government placed special emphasis on “formal agreements with the U.S.—that mostly pertain to geospatial mapping and communications.”
Experts say these and the wider military cooperation between the two nations is of significance due to a U.S.-India geopolitical alliance vis-a-vis China.
The State Department in early November 2019 released a report (pdf) on how it is working with allies and partners to implement a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and specifically mentioned in its report that the U.S. strategic partnership with India is strengthening.
In the report, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “free, fair, and reciprocal trade, open iRead More – Source