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US, India: Global strategic partners25 February 2020

Mutual affection between leaders remains to be translated into concrete improvement of ties, trade in particular

Following U.S. President Donald Trump's historic and pompous two-day visit to India, the two countries late Tuesday declared they were "comprehensive global strategic partners" in a joint statement.

Trump concluded his first official visit to India without taking a firm stance on sensitive issues such as The Citizenship Amendment Act, which has tormented the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for months.

During the U.S. president's 36-hour visit, 10 people died in the Indian capital of New Delhi in clashes over the controversial law, which Muslims consider discriminatory.

Trump and Modi said their countries will deepen security cooperation especially in maritime and space domains, as well as take energy partnership to new levels, according to a statement.

Trump reaffirmed his pledge to support the transfer to India advanced U.S. military technology to help foster a "rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific."

The U.S. has long viewed India as a Major Defense Partner.

Modi and Trump have stressed the importance of bilateral trade and investment, and the need for long-term trade stability at a time when negotiations for a phase one trade deal continues with tariff bumps in the road.

Earlier, during a solo news conference, Trump complained about India being the "highest tariff country in the world" and asked Modi to reconsider the tariffs policy, at least for the U.S.

Strategic convergence in Indo-Pacific

The joint statement stressed the close relationship between the two countries is "central to a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region" in an apparent swipe at China, which is seen by the U.S. and India as a regional and global rival.

"This cooperation is underpinned by recognition of ASEAN centrality; adherence to international law and good governance; support for safety and freedom of navigation, overflight and other lawful uses of the seas; unimpeded lawful commerce; and advocacy for peaceful resolution of maritime disputes in accordance with international law," the statement said.

"The United States appreciates India’s role as a net provider of security," it stressed, with both sides taking "note of efforts toward a meaningful Code of Conduct in the South China Sea."

Partnership for Global Leadership

The leaders committed to work together to strengthen and reform the United Nations and other international organizations.

Trump reaffirmed support of the U.S. for India’s permanent membership on a reformed UN Security Council and its entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

They also underlined a shared interest in a "united, sovereign, democratic, inclusive, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan."

The statement denounced any use of "terrorist proxies" and condemned "cross-border terrorism in all its forms."

During his visit, Trump refrained from touching thorny issues of Kashmir or the citizenship law for the sake of getting the most out of India economically.

However, he has not embraced an anti-Pakistan rhetoric either, calling his relations with Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan "very good."

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