The White House on Monday announced an upcoming trip by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to India. The trip would be Trump’s first to India since taking office in 2017 and would mark his first overseas trip since his acquittal in the U.S. Senate’s impeachment trial earlier this month. The two-day visit will take place on February 24 and 25.
Trump, along with U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, will “travel to New Delhi and Ahmedabad, which is in Prime Minister Modi’s home state of Gujarat and played such an important role in Mahatma Gandhi’s life and leadership of the Indian independence movement,” the White House 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,” the White House added.
Following the White House’s announcement, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs confirmed the visit, noting the trip by the U.S. president would be a “state visit” to India. “The global strategic partnership between India and the U.S. is based on trust, shared values, mutual respect and understanding, and marked by warmth and friendship between the peoples of the two countries,” the Indian statement added.
“The relationship has further evolved under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and President Trump, with significant progress in all areas including trade, defense, counter-terrorism, energy, coordination on regional and global issues as well as people-to-people ties,” it continued.
The United States and India aim to finalize a trade agreement between them during the visit. As part of the Trump administration’s scrutiny of U.S. trading partners that run trade deficits with the United States, New Delhi had come under scrutiny.
Early last year, the Trump administration rescinded preferential trading status for India as a developing country under the United States’ Generalized System of Preference (GSP) program. The U.S. decision affected as much as $5.6 billion in Indian goods.
Though a trade agreement between the two sides has not been finalized, the White House is looking for a deal that could be announced during the trip. The United States, in particular, is seeking greater access to the Indian market for U.S. agricultural goods and medical devices.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer may visit India as early as this week to continue trade talks between the two countries.
Beyond trade, Trump and Modi may look to finalize new defense sales. Days prior to the White House’s announcement, the U.S. Department of State authorized the possible sale of a U.S. Integrated Air Defense Weapon System for India.