Modi-Trump meeting in Washington: How the media reported it

Last Updated: Wed, Jun 28, 2017 11:57 hrs
President Donald Trump meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday met US President Donald Trump for their first summit with focus on pushing the strategic ties amid the United States' strong message to Pakistan by declaring Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist.

Trump and the first lady Melania came out warmly welcomed Modi. They exchanged pleasantries and had a brief interaction before going inside the White House.

The US President described Modi as a ‘true friend’, said it was ‘a great honour’ for him to receive the Prime Minister.

“He is such a great Prime Minister. I have been speaking with him and reading about him. He is doing a great job. Economically, India is doing very well and in so many other ways. I would like to congratulate him for this,” he said in the brief comments that followed.

The two leaders during their meeting touched upon several topics like terrorism, economic developments, bilateral relations, and purchase of defence equipments.

As the two leaders met, captains of both the Indian and the American media intently covered the much-awaited meeting.

On aspects of India’s concerns of China’s One Belt One Road, India has won US’s support in the formers objection to the OBOR project that runs through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. The article in NDTV describes how Trump endorses India’s stand on the China-Pak corridor.

“During his visit to the White House, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won the endorsement of the US on India's objections to China's massive initiative to open land and sea corridors that connect it to Central Asia.”

According to the South China Morning Post, although this meeting is low profile compared to Modi’s previous visits to the US, there was plenty of time spent and has significance between the two leaders.

“Although Modi’s two-day Washington visit, which began on Sunday, is lower profile than his previous three trips to the US since he took office in 2014, it has included plenty of time spent with Trump.

Modi later joined the President and first lady for dinner – the first dinner Trump has hosted for a foreign dignitary at the White House, although he has separately hosted China’s President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his resort in Florida.”

Emphasing on social media, Trump expressed how he was proud that he and Modi were world leaders in social media has raised concerns for social media being used as for populist purposes.

“I’m proud to announce to the media, to the American people, and to the Indian people, that Prime Minister Modi and I are world leaders in social media,” the US President said with a smile.

Also, a interview with Nisha Desai Biswal was more optimistic about the political maturity of India as a nation.

When asked about Trump's remarks about India in relation to the Paris Agreement, Biswal responded by stating that India had 'handled it maturely and moved beyond it.'

'American companies are the ones that will suffer if we alienate or rebuff India on climate change. India has the most ambitious targets for clean energy and represents that largest market for green infrastructure,' Biswal added.

A whole new level to the excitement surrounding the Modi-Trump meeting was explored by The Washington Post, which had a different take on the episode. In Josh Rogin's words:

'President Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would seem to be kindred spirits. But despite a lot of sweet talk as Modi arrived in Washington for a White House meeting Monday, the question remains whether his dalliance with Trump will be a one-night stand or will blossom into a full-on romance.'

TIME Magazine, on the other hand, followed the leaders as they promised to usher in a new era of counter-terrorism cooperation:

'Hugging outside the White House Monday, President Donald Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi heralded an increasingly close strategic partnership as the U.S. branded a top militant from neighboring Pakistan as a “global terrorist”.'

'Speaking in the Rose Garden after their talks, Trump said: “Both our nations have been struck by the evils of terrorism, and we are both determined to destroy terrorist organizations and the radical ideology that drives them. We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism.”'

Noting that the two leaders share much in common, the Los Angeles Times stated:

'Both are political outsiders who champion a muscular, country-first nationalism. They enjoy feverish support from their voter bases while their governments assail critics and ignore — or encourage — hostility toward minority groups.'

Both leaders boast considerable social media following. Still certain issues were sure to be skirted around, especially the US' withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement.

When Trump withdrew from the Paris climate change agreement, he lashed out at India directly, accusing it of exploiting the deal to secure “billions and billions of dollars of foreign aid”.

In fact, Sreemoy Talukdar in Firstpost goes ahead in dismissing many of the stipulated similarities between the two men and states that realpolitik would likely be the prime mover between the duos relationship:

'The similarities are grossly exaggerated and in fact, are quite misleading. In their background, personality, road to power, administrative experience and acumen, lifestyle, ideology, beliefs and leadership approach, Modi and Trump are as similar as chalk and cheese. Most articles that project Modi and Trump as each other's 'mirror image' are poorly conceptualized and lack in basic interpretation of facts.'

Talukdar does concede one similarity between the two leaders: 'Their distrust of mainstream media'

The Firstpost article not only goes on to trace the interesting similarities between the leaders, but also analyses Modi’s pitch when he addressed the business honchos and the NRI crowd.

A brief look at Modi’s topics of discussion at Ritz Carlton where he met around 700-odd members of Indian diaspora reveals this pattern. The prime minister, looking visibly jet-lagged, started off by addressing the NRIs as his family members and soaked in the raucous applause. In picking up the Ujjwala scheme of distributing LPG cylinders to the poor, opening up of bank accounts, neem-coating urea for farmers and surgical strikes, the active effort to portray himself as a man of action who is out to transform India was evident.

None of these are new and in fact, have been repeated ad infinitum by Modi at various fora but in repeating his achievements, the prime minister feels he is performing two important functions — addressing the sense of fulfillment in NRIs and reinforcing his effectiveness to an audience back home.

Heralding his government as a harbinger of change, Modi wasted no time in wooing global business giants, creating an air of optimism, portraying India as a fertile ground for potential investors:

The PM reportedly showcased GST as a 'game changer'. He claimed that GST is a crucial part of the 7,000 reforms undertaken by the government to increase 'ease of doing business' and stressed hard on the digitization of Indian economy. Modi's job here was to show that India isn’t really the protectionist regime that it is touted to be, but a place friendly for business and an opportunity willing to be tapped that will ensure inclusive growth in India and will be mutually beneficial for both countries.

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