PM Modi’s US visit still on despite Trump rant against India on climate change

Washington: US President Donald Trump unloaded on India among other countries during an epic rant on June 1 while announcing American withdrawal from the Paris climate change accord.
The shrill speech, replete with claims of American victimhood at the hands of the rest of the world, casts a chill on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expected visit to the White House later this month, which officials say remains on schedule.
Phone and cables lines between Washington and New Delhi were buzzing on June 1 and June 2 as Indian officials and diplomats took stock of Trump’s direct, no-holds-barred attack in which he accused New Delhi of trying to extract “billions and billions and billions” of dollars in foreign aid from the developed world to sign up for the climate accord.
Although dates for the Prime Minister’s trip have not been formally or officially announced, the White House has penciled in June 26-27 for the first face-to-face meeting between Trump and Modi.
The meeting, which Indian officials said on background is still on despite the climate change fireworks, will now take place under a cloud of misgivings, including the Trump administration’s crackdown of guest worker visas that is adversely affecting Indian businesses, its squeeze on US manufacturing abroad that is forcing a scaling down of US investment in India, and now its withdrawal from the Paris Treaty after previous US administrations dragged New Delhi kicking and screaming into it.
Although no one is talking of canceling the visit yet, Trump’s harsh critiques have cooled the expected ardor between Washington and New Delhi that a small constituency of Trump bhakts in both countries had anticipated and forecast.
“The relationship is bigger than any one issue. We need to keep engaging,” a senior Indian official involved in the visit told TOI, confirming the visit was still on and pointing out how China’s leader Xi Jinping came to US despite Trump unloading on Beijing for more than a year.
Trump repeatedly raged against India, China, and rest of the world on June 1, casting the US as a victim of global machinations.
“India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries,” he fumed in a 27-minute, 3000-word tirade in the White House Rose Garden while declaring that the “bottom line is that the Paris Accord is very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States.”
No other developed country has made such allegations, and in fact, the US stands isolated even in the developed world following its withdrawal.
The US President then went on to claim that India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020 and China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants, but the US can’t under the Paris agreement.
“Think of it: India can double their coal production. We’re supposed to get rid of ours,” Trump fumed, arguing that “compliance with the terms of the Paris Accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the US could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025” – figures that are contested even within the US.
“In short, the agreement doesn’t eliminate coal jobs, it just transfers those jobs out of America and ships them to foreign countries,” Trump maintained in remarks that did not once refer to the widely-acknowledged fact that the United States has historically been the world’s biggest polluter with the largest carbon footprint in the global community, and the rest of the world, and the US itself, has had to pay for American profligacy and addiction to hydro-carbons.
Trump’s claim that India was seeking “billions and billions and billions” was also typical of the hyperbolic falsehoods he often indulges in. Total foreign aid to India in 2015 was only $ 3.1 billion, with US aid to India only around $ 100 million. This is being whittled down to $34 million in 2018, pocket change for India which now itself gives out $ 1.6 billion in foreign aid, mostly to neighboring countries.
Compared to the peanuts in US aid (which New Delhi prefers is completely stopped), India buys $ 100 million worth of California almonds alone every year, besides billions in armaments. India also receives many times more in foreign investment and remittances than foreign aid.
But expanding on the victimhood thesis, Trump argued that the Paris Accord “is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.”

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