Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump are scheduled to meet twice in less than a week this month, India's Ambassador to the United States has confirmed, asserting that the India-US strategic relationship has the "potential to become the "defining partnership within this century".
Since his re-election in May this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump have already met twice. The previous two meetings of the two leaders were on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan and the G7 Summit in France this summer.
Later this week, when PM Modi visits in the US for the UN General Assembly session, they "are scheduled to meet twice more", Indian envoy Harsh Vardhan Shringla told a Washington audience on Wednesday.
So, they would have "four meetings in the span of a few months," Mr Shringla said during the 'India on the Hill: Charting a Future for Indo-US Relations' event jointly organised by two think tanks - The Heritage Foundation from the US and Observer Research Foundation (ORF) from India.
PM Modi is scheduled to arrive in Houston on Saturday. A day later, President Trump would join him in addressing the mega "Howdy, Modi" community event to be attended by more than 50,000 Indian-Americans.
The two leaders are again scheduled to meet later in the week in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly sessions.
"They will meet on 22nd September. The US President is joining the Prime Minister in addressing a huge Indian diaspora event in Houston and they will also meet on the margins of the UNGA in New York," Mr Shringla said.
Though PM Modi and Donald Trump's predecessor Barack Obama have the record of the maximum number of meetings between the leaders of the two countries, this is the first time that the Indian Prime Minister and the American President would be meeting four times within a span of four months.
"It's really reflective of the nature of the (India-US) relationship," Mr Shringla said while participating in a panel discussion during the first-of-its-kind two-day event.
"India-US strategic partnership has emerged as one of the key bilateral relationships from the start of this century and has the potential to become the defining partnership within this century," he said.
The ambassador also said that the building blocks of this strategic partnership was the security cooperation which has emerged now in place.
Mr Shringla highlighted that it was important to note how far the two countries have come in a short span of a decade since the civil nuclear agreement.
India and the United States have signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Association (LEMOA). Several other agreements are at different stages of discussion, he said.
The two countries now conduct more bilateral exercises with each other than they do with any other country. Bilateral exercises held annually include Malabar (naval exercise that also includes Japan), Cope-India (Air Force), Yudh Abhyas (Army) and Vajra Prahar (Special Forces), Mr Shringla said.
India also participates in the annual RIMPAC exercises as well as in Red Flag exercises which are US-led multinational exercises. Indian defense procurements from the US have also seen a tremendous growth, he said.
"We have also instituted the 2+2 Dialogue - a joint meeting between the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the two countries," the Indian diplomat said.
The two countries also engage through Trilateral Summit level meetings between India, the US and Japan as well as Quadrilateral DG-level meetings between India, the US, Japan and Australia.
"It is worth mentioning that we also have a bilateral maritime security dialogue and several other defence cooperation dialogue mechanisms," Mr Shringla said.
"A key area that has seen close bilateral cooperation is counter-terrorism. We have a Joint Working Group on Counter-terrorism (JWGCT) and a Designations Dialogue. This cooperation also spills over into multilateral fora."
"The listing of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar by the UN Security Council in May 2019, in the wake of the Pulwama terrorist attack, is one such instance," he said.