US President Donald Trump will travel to India later this month on a two-day visit, the White House announced on Tuesday, in what would be his first trip to the country as the president of the United States.

Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will make the trip to “strengthen the United States – India strategic partnership,” the announcement said. Trump will travel to New Delhi and also make a stop at Ahmedabad during the visit from February 24-25, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

The White House said that Trump and Modi talked by telephone over the weekend. The two leaders have pursued a close relationship, with Modi visiting in September and hosting Trump at a huge rally in Houston, Texas, dubbed “Howdy, Modi!”

President @realDonaldTrump & @FLOTUS will travel to India from February 24-25 to visit Prime Minister @narendramodi! The trip will further strengthen the U.S.-India strategic partnership & highlight the strong & enduring bonds between the American & Indian people. 🇺🇸 🇮🇳

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 10, 2020
Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, had travelled to India twice, in 2010 and 2015.

“President Trump’s trip to India is timely in view of the bilateral trade issues that need to be resolved and in light of the collaborations between the US and India in various realms,” M R Rangaswami, Indian-American philanthropist and head of Indiaspora, said.

Describing this as a significant visit, Mukesh Aghi, president of the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum, noted that last three American presidents had made trips to India.

“It’s essential to send a message to the region that India is a significant partner and the president values that,” Aghi said.

According to him, India has a role to play not only in its immediate neighbourhood, but in making sure that the South China Sea and the Indo Pacific region is part of the international global order.