Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump discussed a range of key issues, including defence and security, when they met in Manila on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit on Monday.
The Indian leader told Trump that their nations can rise beyond bilateral ties and work jointly for the future of Asia, reflecting a growing convergence on strategic issues in the Indo-Pacific region.
Modi also assured Trump that India will try to “live up to the expectations” of the US and the world, and thanked the US President for speaking “highly” about India during his trips.
“The cooperation between India and US can rise beyond bilateral cooperation and both countries can work for the future of Asia and the world...We are moving ahead together on many issues,” Modi said.
“Wherever President Trump has gone and wherever he got an opportunity to talk about India, he spoke very highly about India. He expressed optimism about India and I am assuring that the expectation the world has, the expectation the US has, India has been trying to live up to that expectation and will continue to do it,” Modi, who arrived in the Philippines on Sunday on a three-day visit, said.
Modi will attend the 15th India-Asean Summit and the 12th East Asia Summit in Manila. On Sunday, Modi and Trump interacted at a gala dinner hosted by Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte.
Trump, for his part, described Modi as a friend. “It’s great to have Prime Minister Modi here. We’ve had him at the White House, and he’s become a friend of ours and a great gentleman doing a fantastic job in bringing around lots of factions in India -- bringing them all together,” Trump said, according to the transcript released by the White House.
“It’s a lot of good reports coming out of India. So I want to congratulate you,” he told Modi.
Monday’s meeting between Modi and Trump in the Philippines capital came a day after officials of India, the US, Japan and Australia held talks to give shape to the much-talked-about quadrilateral alliance to keep the strategically important Indo-Pacific region free, open and inclusive.
The push for the quadrilateral alliance comes against the backdrop of China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. The US has been favouring a larger role for India in the strategically important Indo-Pacific region.
The term Indo-Pacific gained currency recently, with its usage growing across diplomatic and security circles in US, Australia, India and Japan. Beijing prefers “Asia-Pacific” but to many the term placed an authoritarian China too firmly at the centre.
Trump and his officials used the term repeatedly through his five-nation tour that concludes in Manila. In fact, White House recently described the alliance as a “linchpin for stability, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific”.
Trump had on Saturday praised India’s “astounding” growth after it opened up its economy and also lauded Modi, saying the Indian leader was working successfully to bring the vast country and its people together.
Speaking at a gathering of CEOs on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Vietnamese city of Danang, President Trump had cited India as one of the countries in the Indo-Pacific region making strides.