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Trump visit must make tangible gains, not photo-opportunity: Congress

The Congress leader Anand Sharma said that the PM and the government must keep in mind “India’s sovereignty, self-respect and national interest” while conducting Trump’s visit. Sharma also pointed at the contrast between the simplicity and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and the government’s ‘extravaganza’ for Trump’s visit.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 22, 2020, 09.10 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump’s joint declaration should have “tangible outcomes on substantive issues,” the Congress has said. Cautioning against Trump’s visit ending up as a “PR exercise and photo opportunity” and “an extension of the US presidential election campaign,” former commerce minister Anand Sharma said at the official briefing in New Delhi on Friday “there should be gravitas, seriousness and depth in Modi-Trump engagement. We hope it will address issues such as US withdrawal of General System of Preference status to Indian firms, reduction in H1B visas for Indian techies and restoration of social security of Indian professionals.”

The Congress leader said that the PM and the government must keep in mind “India’s sovereignty, self-respect and national interest” while conducting Trump’s visit. “There have already been many arbitrary decisions which have affected our engagement with other strategic partners. We are a sovereign country and have the right to engage with our other partner countries on our terms,” he said, adding that India’s strategic partnerships with the other countries should be independent.

Stressing that the Indo-US relationship was strategic and expanded to all areas of cooperation including nuclear and defence, Sharma said ties between the two countries cannot be transactional. “This visit should not become an extension of the US presidential campaign for the Indian diaspora. We do not become active party in the elections in another country. This mistake was made in Texas at the ‘Howdy Modi’ event and the prime minister ought to be careful as they set wrong precedents,” he said.

Sharma also pointed at the contrast between the simplicity and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and the government’s ‘extravaganza’ for Trump’s visit. Questioning how the event at Motera stadium in Ahmedabad was hosted by a ‘Nagrik Abhinandan Samiti’ Sharma asked, “is the US President coming on the invite of the Nagrik Abhinandan Samiti? The government should desist from being hypocritical.”

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