Vastavam web: India is pushing for U.S. approval of its request to buy a naval variant of the Predator drone, officials said, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to revitalize relations with Washington when he meets President Donald Trump for the first time. Modi’s two-day visit to Washington begins on Sunday. Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping in April and has also had face-time with the leaders of nations including Japan, Britain and Vietnam since taking office in January, prompting anxiety in New Delhi that India is no longer a priority in Washington.If the Indian navy gets the unarmed surveillance drones it wants to keep watch over the Indian Ocean it would be the first such purchase by a country that is not a member of the NATO alliance.
India, a big buyer of U.S. arms recently named by Washington as a major defence ally, wants to protect its 7,500 km (4,700 mile) coastline as Beijing expands its maritime trade routes and Chinese submarines increasingly lurk in regional waters.But sources tracking the discussions say the U.S. State Department has been concerned about the potential destabilizing impact of introducing high-tech drones into South Asia, where tensions are simmering between India and Pakistan, particularly over Kashmir, which is divided between them.
U.S. officials expect a relatively low-key visit by Modi, without the fanfare of some of his previous trips to the United States, and one geared to giving the Indian leader the chance to get to know Trump personally and to show that he is doing so. Modi is also not expected to press hard on a U.S. visa program the Trump administration is reviewing to reduce the flow of skilled foreign workers and save jobs for Americans, seeing limited gains from raising a sensitive issue, they said.