New Delhi: Initial preparations have been launched to host American President Donald Trump who is expected to visit India on February 24 and 25. This would be Trump’s maiden visit to India as the head of a state. A key element of the visit could be a townhall event, either in Delhi or Western India, on the lines of Howdy Modi event in Houston, sources indicated to ET.

The contours of the visit is understood to have been discussed when Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells visited India last week. Other senior State Department officials will visit India in few weeks.

Indian foreign and defence ministers’ visit to Washington for second edition of 2+2 ministerial dialogue last month in many ways had laid the foundation for the key visit as a number of key pacts in defence and civilian sectors were signed on the occasion. Later, the outgoing Indian envoy to USA, Harsh V Shringla, met Trump before his departure.

Trump’s prospective visit would also boost the administration’s support for India’s moves in Jammu and Kashmir amid anti-Delhi rhetoric by left leaning section of Democrats. Earlier there were speculations that Trump could visit India for 2019 Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest which, however, did not fructify for a variety of reasons including the State of Union address.

India and the US are understood to have resolved most of the important trade issues, paving the way for an ‘initial trade package’ wherein the two countries are looking for an equitable market access. Progress is believed to have been made during the meeting between the Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representatives Robert Lighthizer in Washington last year.

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