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Will Donaldbhai grace Republic Day 2019?

A US president graced the Republic Day parade in the first year of the Modi regime.
Will another American prez turn up in the final year of the first Modi Sarkar?
Archis Mohan reports.

IMAGE: The controversial ‘baby Trump’ blimp released in London on Friday, July 13, morning as hundreds descend on London to protest against the US president’s visit to the United Kingdom. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

After the recent hiccups, India-US bilateral relations are set for an uptick.

While New Delhi is yet to confirm reports of it having invited US President Donald J Trump to be the chief guest at next year’s Republic Day parade, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday, July 13, said the India-US ‘2+2’ dialogue will now take place in the first week of September.

The ministry of external affairs didn’t deny reports that New Delhi has invited Trump to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in 2019.

According to reports, the MEA had mooted the invite to the Americans in April.

While the response from the Trump administration has been positive, a formal confirmation is awaited.

India’s first ‘2+2’ dialogue with the US was to earlier take place in Washington, DC on July 6. It was postponed last month when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opted to visit North Korea on the scheduled date. This was the second instance of the dialogue being postponed.

“The ‘2+2’ dialogue with the US is to happen in the first week of September. The agenda will be to develop and strengthen strategic defence cooperation and to follow on with what had transpired during the meeting US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis,” Sitharaman said.

The ‘2+2’ dialogue envisages India’s external affairs and defence ministers meeting their US counterparts.

Sitharaman said the S-400 Triumf air defence missile deal with Russia will go ahead notwithstanding US sanctions on military transactions with Moscow.

New Delhi was under pressure from the US to scrap the deal. She said negotiations with Russia for the S-400 missile deal have almost come to conclusion.

Referring to the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), under which the Trump administration has imposed sanctions on military deals with Russia, the defence minister indicated that India wasn’t bound by it since it was an American law and not a UN law and India has conveyed its position on the issue to the US.

Apart from the US pressure on India on the missile deal with Russia, Washington has also asked India to cut its oil imports from Iran.

There are worries over bilateral trade relations and the Trump administration’s move to tighten rules for H1B visas, particularly H4 visas that allow spouses of H1B visa holders to work in the US.

Source: Rediff