US President Donald Trump might drop in at the Houston event of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 22, ahead of the latter's UN General Assembly address in New York. Trump Campaign may be eyeing the Indian diaspora's votes for the 2020 presidential vote.
Such a US overture, however, will be a slap on the face for Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who would be planning to raise the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir in his UN address.
Modi and Trump last met during the G-7 summit meeting on June 27 in Osaka, Japan, where India was a special invitee. Some draw a parallel for the Houston event' with a meeting in London's Wembly in 2015, when the then British Prime Minister David Cameron made a surprise show and addressed the gathering, media reports say.
The White House may announce Trump's participation in the event shortly, according to an Economic Times report. The meeting could also see the announcement of a major trade deal between the two countries resolving some outstanding issues that have affected bilateral ties, the report says.
The deal is apparently in the last stage of negotiation and may be announced during Modi's visit beginning on September 21. The Indian prime minister will also be meeting a series of world leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.
The significance of Trump presence at a Modi event would be understood in many capitals, especially Islamabad. Prime Minister Imran Khan has been hoping to breathe some life into his country's waning campaign in support of its Kashmir agenda.
While Trump may hope to milk some campaign mileage by showing up at the Modi event, India might try to ensure a senior Democratic leader's presence for balance. Indians are among the wealthiest groups in the US and politically active, the report says.
Another important event in Modi's itinerary is a round-table with energy CEOs in Houston. The event is thought important in the context of India preparing to import more energy from the US and New Delhi's push towards renewable energy, clean technologies, and smart grids, the report says.
While External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will be mounting a solid defence of India's Jammu and Kashmir stand, the Indian position has gotten a boost from British premier Boris Johnson. In his response to a letter by Tory MP Bob Blackman, Johnson said: "The government's long-standing position remains that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political solution to the situation in Kashmir, in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people."