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Houston, we do not have a problem

Narendra Modi's reception in Texas embodies the momentum in the relationship between the world’s two largest democracies
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the "Howdy Modi: Shared Dreams, Bright Futures" event at NRG Stadium, on Sunday, September 22, 2019, in Houston

The Editorial Board   |   Published 23.09.19, 08:46 PM

Houston and New Delhi do not have a problem with each other. The prime minister’s visit to and his reception at an event in Houston — the president of the United States of America was in attendance — certainly embody the momentum that lies at the heart of the relationship between the world’s two largest democracies. Although ‘Howdy Modi’ — the name of the extravaganza was a telling endorsement of Narendra Modi’s popularity both in India and the US — was attended overwhelmingly by a constituency that is known to be rather sympathetic to Mr Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, it is likely that the personal rapport that was palpable between the two heads of state would provide the fuel that is necessary to take forward this particular bilateral relationship. New Delhi would be eager to interpret the show of warmth between Mr Trump and Mr Modi as a sign of success in foreign policy. After all, India’s relationship with the US had entered a bit of a turbulent patch in recent times with Mr Trump’s initial offer to mediate on the Kashmir issue. The shadow of that controversy has now been given a quiet burial by Mr Trump’s enthusiastic backing of the Indian prime minister. Seldom does the US president describe another statesman as a ‘special person’.

It will not be an exaggeration to suggest that their mutual admiration is predicated on a shared vision. The issue of terrorism remains a common concern between India and the US. Mr Modi did the correct thing by invoking these overlapping issues, describing the abrogation of Article 370 as a step to neutralize the threats of separatism and terrorism in Kashmir. Mr Trump responded by saying that the question of border security lies on the mind of both India and the US. Islamabad, New Delhi would be hoping, would pay special attention to this utterance. The other pivotal element in Indo-US partnership happens to be trade. The tensions in this relationship — Mr Trump had christened India as the ‘king of tariffs’ — remain unaddressed. Mr Modi and Mr Trump must now act together to smooth out the creases.

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