President Trump plans to appear alongside Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an unusual campaign-style event next weekend in Houston that organizers have dubbed “Howdy, Modi!” the White House said Sunday.

The White House said the Sept. 22 event in Texas, along with a separate stop with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Ohio the same day, “underscore the important partnerships between the United States and India, and Australia.”

The whirlwind of world leaders comes just before all three are expected to attend a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

The Houston event will offer Trump and Modi a chance to showcase a planned trade agreement before an audience of Indian Americans they want to impress. Houston is home to a large population of Indian Americans, a target for Republicans in Texas and elsewhere. The White House said the event is expected to draw tens of thousands of people. Modi, a Hindu nationalist, is seeking to shore up international support abroad as he ignores international calls to end a state of emergency in the disputed Kashmir region.

AD
AD

“It will be a great opportunity to emphasize the strong ties between the people of the United States and India, to reaffirm the strategic partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies, and to discuss ways to deepen their energy and trade relationship,” a statement from White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

Trump angered Modi’s government with an off-the-cuff claim in July that India wanted his help to mediate with Pakistan over Kashmir. He has since said he thinks the two sides can work out the dispute themselves. He is under pressure from lawmakers to urge Modi to lift the lockdown.

The United States and India are racing to settle several outstanding trade disputes in time for Trump and Modi to finalize a limited trade accord this month. Trade relations with India were thrown into turmoil in June when Trump revoked privileges that allowed more than $6 billion worth of Indian goods to enter the United States last year duty-free.

AD
AD

Trump acted after India did not open its market to U.S. manufacturers and farmers, as required by the duty-free program known as the Generalized System of Preferences. India, which fired back with its own levies on 28 U.S. products, including apples, almonds and walnuts, has among the highest average tariff rates among major economies and runs a nearly $21 billion surplus in its goods trade with the United States — a measure that Trump watches closely.

U.S. officials are seeking greater access to the Indian agricultural market, lower tariffs for industrial goods and a relaxation of price controls on medical devices. India, which has its own complaints about U.S. immigration policy and financial sanctions, wants its trade privileges restored.

In Wapakoneta, Ohio, Trump and Morrison will tour of a new Australian-owned manufacturing plant, the White House said.

AD
AD

“This visit will demonstrate the strong trade and investment relationship between the United States and Australia and President Trump’s successful efforts to restore the United States as the world’s leading destination for foreign direct investment.”

Trump will host Morrison and his wife at the White House for a state visit on Friday.

The White House did not say when Trump will travel to New York for U.N. meetings, but he is expected to be there alongside other world leaders on Sept. 23.

AD
AD