Wishing each other on the start of the New Year, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump had an extended telephone call on the evening of January 6.
The leaders of the two countries spoke on a range of issues and over the progress in the bilateral India-US strategic partnership. According to the White House, President Trump received a call from PM Modi in which both "the leaders exchanged perspectives on how to reduce the US trade deficit with India, expand security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and increase cooperation in Afghanistan.”
The phone call between the two leaders comes as the U.S. is seen making crucial foreign policy moves in India’s neighbourhood from withdrawing over 5,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan to carrying out multiple freedom of navigation projects in the South China Sea.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs released a statement saying, “The two leaders took positive note of growing bilateral cooperation in defence, counter-terrorism and energy and coordination on regional and global issues. They agreed to continue to work together for further strengthening India-U.S. bilateral relations in 2019.”
“They expressed satisfaction at the progress in India-U.S. strategic partnership in 2018. They appreciated developments such as the launch of the new 2+2 Dialogue mechanism and the first-ever Trilateral Summit of India, the U.S. and Japan,” the MEA release said.
The phone call comes just hours ahead of the mini 2+2 dialogue at the joint secretary level to be held in New Delhi which will review the implementation of agreements and measures that was agreed upon between the foreign minister and defence ministers of the two countries in September 2018. This meeting of the joint secretaries will be held on the sidelines of the Raisina Dialogue, a three-day geopolitical conference scheduled to start from January 8.
The phone call included discussion on the tariffs placed by the Trump Administration on steel and aluminium imports which have impacted Indian steel makers. Trump has also targeted India for its high import tariffs on manufactured goods such as luxury cars and motorcycles. The two leaders agreed to continue to talk on these issues to come to an agreed and mutually beneficial position.