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Trump wants more balance in US-India trade relationship

WASHINGTON: United States President Donald Trump urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do more to relax Indian trade barriers on Monday during talks in which both leaders took great pains to stress the importance of a strong US-India relationship.

At a closely-watched first meeting between the two leaders, Mr Trump and Mr Modi appeared to get along well.

Mr Modi pulled in Mr Trump for a bear hug on the stage as the cameras rolled in the Rose Garden.

"I deeply appreciate your strong commitment to the enhancement of our bilateral relations," Mr Modi told him.

"I am sure that under your leadership, a mutually-beneficial strategic partnership will gain new strength, new positivity, and will reach new heights."

Mr Trump was also warm, but made clear he sees a need for more balance in the US-India trade relationship in keeping with his campaign promise to expand American exports and create more jobs at home.

Last year, the US trade deficit with India neared US$31 billion (S$43 billion).

Mr Trump said he would like a trading relationship that is "fair and reciprocal".

"It is important that barriers be removed to the export of US goods into your markets and that we reduce our trade deficit with your country," he said.

Mr Trump said he was pleased about an Indian airline's recent order of 100 new American planes and that the US looked forward to exporting more energy, including major long-term contracts to purchase American natural gas.

These energy contracts "are being negotiated and we will sign - trying to get the price up a little bit," Mr Trump said. - REUTERS

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