Don't have positive indications of major outcomes from Trump visit: Congress leader Anand Sharma
Ahead of US President Donald Trump's maiden visit to India, former Union minister and Congress leader Anand Sharma on Sunday said so far there are no positive indications that the high profile visit would yield any major outcomes.
However, former external affairs minister SM Krishna feels the visit assumes importance as both the US and India need to nourish and maintain the relationship between them further. The US president and First Lady Melania Trump will be in India from February 24 to 25.
The visit is important in relation to the fact that the US is a major power, but that is all, Sharma said.
"So far I do not have any positive indication of any major outcome. It will be a continuation of defence and security cooperation, and a reaffirmation of our cooperation in space and nuclear sciences. It is ongoing and it will not be a new thing," Sharma, a former minister who handled external affairs under the Congress-led UPA 1 said.
Krishna, who was external affairs minister during the UPA and is now in the BJP, feels though Trump's visit comes in the US presidential election year and a sizeable Indian expatriate population will vote, but "it should not be looked at from the narrow prism of US President's election".
"It needs to be looked at a larger perspective as to what is happening in the region," he said.
Krishna said China will be closely monitoring the visit and the nature of talks that take place.
"It is a very important visit. The US and India have a very close and fruitful relationship, especially after the Nuclear Accord. We have moved strategically close to each other and it is important for us to nourish and maintain the relationship further," he said.
Asked about the possible outcomes, he said he was not privy to the agenda of Trump and Prime Minister Modi. But some treaties would surely be signed and some issues concerning the two countries would be taken up when a meeting of this kind takes place, Krishna said.
"It need not necessarily be bilateral as the outcomes may have the kind of impact that concerns the region," he said noting that China and Pakistan would certainly be discussed.
Congress leader Sharma claimed that during the visit, there would neither be any trade agreement nor the restoration of India's status under the Generalized System of Preference (GSP) bracket which the country previously had.
"There won't be any trade agreement. There won't be a restoration of the GSP with all indications and the US making negative statements," he said.
"By putting India in the bracket of developed countries list, the US would drastically cut down any of the access and even the H1B visas which were available to India as a developing country because the US has quotas. So let us see. Except for a helicopter deal, there appears nothing in the offing," Sharma said.
He said, "we would have to wait and see if there will be outcomes".
On whether Trump's visit would mean anything with regard to Pakistan, he said it was unlikely.
"US President Trump will give one message today and he will give another message tomorrow. He has done this in the past. Do not forget after the 'Howdy, Modi' event in Houston how he met Pakistan PM Imran Khan. So let us wait. They will not take an extreme position.
"They need Pakistan also for what they are doing in Afghanistan," said the deputy leader of the Congress in Rajya Sabha.
Sharma said the Trump visit should also not be seen as an attempt to balance the rise of China.
"China is five times bigger than us. India is in no position to balance. The US has its own equations with China (which) one should not forget. They make noises but they reach agreements quickly. They have a trade agreement. Let us wait," the Congress leader said.