NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to hold around 20 bilateral meetings during his New York visit, including with U.S. President Donald Trump, and during his UNGA speech, will focus on India's role towards development and peace and security, with no mention of Article 370, which is an "internal issue."
Giving details of Modi's U.S. visit, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said Sept. 19, if Pakistan raises the Kashmir issue at the UN, they are “welcome to do so."
"If they wish to dwell on this issue (Kashmir) in the speech by their prime minister, they are welcome to do so."
He said India will not dwell on the abrogation of Article 370 in the UN.
"Article 370 is an internal issue, there will be no discussion on it in the UN," he said to a question if India would give its stand on the abrogation of special status for Kashmir. "Our prime minister will focus on what the United Nations General Assembly's high-level segment is meant to focus, which is that as a responsible member of the United Nations, the PM will flag what we are doing for development, for security, for peace, and our expectations and aspirations of other countries," Gokhale said.
"We have several multilateral matters to discuss. One of these is terrorism, though it won't be the focus," he added.
Gokhale also said that India meets the criteria for trade concessions under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences.
Referring to the letter by a bipartisan group of 44 U.S. lawmakers that urged the Trump administration to reinstate India as a beneficiary developing nation under the key GSP trade program, he said: "We have seen the letter written by these 40-odd congressmen. It has always been India's position that GSP is a unilateral decision given by countries to other countries based on certain criteria."
"We are a developing country, we meet those criteria. I do not recall our ever stating we are not interested in GSP. To my recollection, the U.S. unilaterally withdrew that concession from us," Gokhale said.
Giving details of Modi's schedule, he said the first event will be a business round table with several chief executives from the energy sector.
On Sept. 22 morning, the highlight will be the “Howdy Modi” event with the Indian American community.
Trump has held out the possibility of making a significant announcement when he addresses the "Howdy Modi" rally with Modi Sept. 22 in Houston.
When a reporter travelling with him on Air Force One asked him on Sept. 18 if he had any announcement to make with Modi in Houston, Trump replied, "Could be."
Trump said that Modi had asked him to come to the rally and he agreed.
According to a transcript of his encounter with reporters while flying back from California to Washington, he said Modi has "got a big crowd coming and I guess the crowd just got a lot bigger because they just announced – he asked, ‘would I go?’ and I will go."
Trump said, "I have a very good relationship with Prime Minister Modi."
But he added that he has, "by the way, great relationship with Pakistan and with India."
While Trump did not hint at what the announcement could be and was tentative about it, India and the U.S. are reported to be racing towards a trade deal.
About 50,000 people have registered for the "Howdy Modi" rally, according to organizers.
The prime minister is expected to have a separate interactive session with members of the U.S. Congress after which he will depart for New York.
Additionally, sources said Modi will hold a CEOs' roundtable at Houston on Sept. 21 where top bosses of over a dozen companies like BP, Exxonmobil, Emerson Electric Company, Vinmar International and IHS Markit would join for discussion.
He is also expected to meet top executives of various start-ups and encourage them to have a wide presence in India.
On the bilateral level, he would discuss various trade pacts with his U.S. counterpart. Besides cooperation in the field of defense and energy, the countries are likely to discuss action-steps for higher trade and commerce.
"The talks are also expected on commercial aviation front and Indian carriers' order to purchase more airlines from U.S. aviation giant Boeing would figure over there," sources said.
On Sept. 23, several multilateral events would be held, beginning with the Climate Summit organized by UN Secretary General Antonio Guetteres.
Other events will include a leadership dialogue on the strategic responses to terrorists and violent extremist narratives.
On Sept. 24, as the world commemorates Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary, India will also host a special event, “Leadership Matters: Relevance of Gandhi in the Contemporary World,” where Modi will be joined by other leaders of countries such as New Zealand, South Korea and Singapore.
The event will also see inauguration of the Gandhi Solar Park – with solar panels being installed on the roof top of UN headquarters in New York from India's grant of $1 million.
There will also be the opening of the Gandhi peace garden at the State University of New York campus of Old Westbury through remote control, and release of a UN postage stamp on Gandhi.
Modi will also receive an award by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the Swachh Bharat campaign.
The following day, he will deliver a keynote address at the plenary of the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, followed by an investment roundtable that India is organizing, featuring companies like Mastercard, Visa, J.P. Morgan, Lockheed Martin, Bank of America and Walmart.
On Sept. 27, after delivering his address at the UNGA, the prime minister will leave for India.
Modi will also co-chair two important plurilateral meetings – the India Pacific Islands Leaders meeting and India-Caribbean Community and Common Market.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will hold meetings with his counterpart from different countries there.
Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan will also be in New York and will engage with groups such as Non-Aligned Movement, Confidence Building Measures in Asia, BRICS and Commonwealth.