Trump dials PM Modi, congratulates him on BJP’s assembly poll victories

US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to congratulate him on his recent state election victories, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at a daily briefing.

The President had also called German chancellor Angela Merkel for her party’s victory in a provincial election, Spicer added.

Details of both calls were awaited.

While Modi’s BJP won Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand outright and formed the governments in Goa and Manipur with an alliance with other parties, Merkel’s centrist-right Christian Democratic Union won a state election in Saarland.

This was the third publicly known phone conversation between Modi and Trump after latter’s victory in US presidential elections last November. The first conversation took place on the morning after Trump’s upset win over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

The second took place after President Trump’s inauguration.

Their officials and aides have spoken and met many times since Trump’s election, with the first team of Indian officials meeting vice-president-elect Mike Pence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to his supporters while heading towards BJP headquarters to celebrates party’s landslide victory in assembly elections in New Delhi on March 12. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

Indian national security adviser Ajit Doval met his then counterpart Michael Flynn in December — before the inauguration, but had to make another trip last week to meet HR McMaster, his new counterpart, after Flynn was forced to resign for lying about his contacts with Russians.

Doval also met secretary of defence James Mattis on his recent visit.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Secretary of State Rex Tillersen spoke on phone, and foreign secretary S Jaishankar met with the top US diplomat during a visit to the US earlier in March.

Jaishankar, who was accompanied by commerce secretary Rita Teotia, also met McMaster and President Trump’s top adviser on international economic affairs Kenneth Juster in the White House, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and secretary for homeland security John Kelly.

Indian officials have felt generally good about these meetings. “Overall our sense was that the administration has a very positive view of the (India-US) relationship and a very positive view of India,” Jaishankar had said after his meetings.

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