Washington: Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump held their first face-to-face meeting in Washington DC, United States. During their joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden, both greeted one another with bear hugs, ending their embrace with a lingering handshake. This is Modi’s fourth visit to the US since he won the Indian general election in 2014. The meeting, seen as a chance to establish a relationship between the two leaders, saw Trump reassure his Indian counterpart that “India and the United states will always be tied together in friendship and respect.” Trump highlighted that both countries were affected by the “evils of terrorism” and the “radical ideology that drives them”. He vowed to “destroy radical Islamic terrorism”, and emphatically pledged that the US would work with India in establishing an example for other nations to follow. Modi spoke of the role both India and the US have taken in rebuilding Afghanistan, including the increasing instability due to terrorism. He noted, “Afghanistan is one of our common concerns.” He added, “in order to attain our objectives for peace and stability in Afghanistan,” that India will continue to work closely with the United States. At the end of his remarks, Modi invited Trump and his family to visit India. In the hours before the meeting, the State Department released a statement that imposed sanctions on the Syed Salahuddin, Pakistan-based leader of Hizbul Mujahideen, the main group that fights against Indian control in the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir. The announcement means the US, now categorizes Salahuddin as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”. The US will move to block all his assets subject to US jurisdiction and prevent American citizens conducting any business with him. The announcement was welcomed by India, who vociferously lobbied at the united Nations security council to declare Salahuddin a global terrorist. Ahead of Modi’s visit to Washington, Trump’s administration had authorised the sale of 22 MQ-9B Guardian drones to India to help in the surveillance of the Indian Ocean. The US manufacturer General Atomics, confirmed the sale and estimated the deal would cost $2 billion and produce 5,000 jobs in the US. The visit allowed both leaders to share common ground – both hold a populist liking for social media and economic nationalist agendas. While Trump’s agenda promotes “America First” and advocates to prevent the migration of US. manufacturing jobs overseas, Modi promotes his own, “Make in India”. To help bolster the relationship, in closed meetings neither leader raised the contentious issues niggling their countries. Trump didn’t mention how on the campaign trail; India was among the nations singled out by him for what he considered unfair trade deals with the US. And Modi left it to his staff to negotiate the HB2 visa programme that India’s skilled workers depend heavily on to work in the US. This visa programme is now being reviewed by the Trump administration. Under Obama’s administration, the US sought to strengthen the relationship with India to prevent China’s increasing regional influence. India in return sought support from the US with their fight against Pakistan over Kashmir. According to Washington DC based think tank, Brookings Institute, Director of the India project, Tanvi Madan, Trump’s approach to the South Asia region and US-India relations are now viewed positively by Indians, after the initial uncertainty following his election, especially, given Trump’s proposed military funding cut to Pakistan. Critics of Pakistan say Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government has not done enough to prevent militants, including the Haqqani network from entering and conducting attacks in Afghanistan. Kamran Bokhari, a senior analyst with Washington DC, based think tank Geopolitical Futures, explained although, “a proposal to cut funding is usually designed to prepare the ground to negotiate from a position of strength.” Trump’s approach to pressure Pakistan to come through on military promises may be futile: as Afghanistan’s security situation continues to deteriorate, Pakistan is cognizant that the US, need Pakistan as a strategic ally in the region. Published in Daily Times, July 2nd , 2017.