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‘Indians very good negotiators’: Donald Trump at White House Diwali event

US president Donald Trump on Tuesday called ties with India a “bulwark for freedom, prosperity, and peace”and Indians “very good negotiators” at a Diwali function at White House.

world Updated: Nov 14, 2018 13:29 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
White House,Donald Trump,Diwali
US president Donald Trump participates in the Diwali ceremonial lighting of the diya as India’s ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna (R) looks on in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.(REUTERS)

US president Donald Trump on Tuesday called ties with India a “bulwark for freedom, prosperity, and peace”, spoke of his friendship with prime minister Narendra Modi and, trying to lighten up the trade negotiations between the two countries, he said Indians are “very good negotiators”.

The president also announced the nomination of an Indian American lawyer, Neomi Rao, already serving in his to the vacancy left on the DC circuit court of appeal by Brett Kavanaugh who was recently confirmed as the ninth justice of the Supreme Court. She is currently serving as will have to be confirmed by the US senate. She is currently serving in the White House as administrator in the office of information and regulatory affairs. If confirmed by the US senate, she will be the second Indian American on the DC circuit bench joining Sri Srinivasan, an Obama appointee.

“We’re trying very hard to make better trade deals with India, but they’re very good traders.,” president Trump said at a Diwali function at the White House, flanked by Indian Americans from his administration, and Indian ambassador Navtej Sarna, turning to whom, he added, “They’re very good negotiators, you would say, right? The best. So we’re working, and it’s moving along.”

India and the United States are negotiating a range of trade issues including retaliatory tariffs imposed by both, market access and some intellectual property rights. Trump has called India “Tariff King” and raised a rather low-volume American export item — Harley-Davidson motorbikes — to call attention to India’s import duties.

Officials of the two countries have held several rounds of talks and as President Trump indicated, those negotiations have been tough.

Speaking generally of ties with India, Trump said, “The United States has deep ties to the nation of India and I am grateful for my friendship with Prime Minister Modi.

“India is the world’s largest democracy and the relationship between our two countries connect as a bulwark for freedom, prosperity, and peace.”

Later he added that the two countries were “very close. I think closer maybe than ever before”. He was building on Ambassador Sarna’s remarks that “we are looking at one of the best times we’ve ever had for the India-US relationship”.

President Trump also said to Ambassador Sarna, “And we love your country. I have great, great respect for, as you know, Prime Minister Modi -- tremendous respect. So just please give my warmest regards, okay?”

And, “we’ll be talking to him soon.”.To which Sarna said the prime minister looks forward to seeing him. They will be together for the G-20 summit in Argentina later in the month.

Standing with the president for the remarks followed by the ceremonial lighting of Diyas were Indian American officials appointed by him — acting undersecretary of state Manisha Singh, Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai, Medicare and Medicaid Services head Seema Verma, acting administration of the drug enforcement administration Uttam Dhillon, and deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah.

Among the others present were Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, and deputy national security advisor Mira Ricardel, the official currently in the eye of a storm with the first lady, Melania Trump calling for her ouster in a statement from her office.

First Published: Nov 14, 2018 07:45 IST