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    Trump set to attend Texas rally for India prime minister amid stalled trade talks

    India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugs U.S. President Donald Trump as they give joint statements in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 26, 2017.
    Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
    President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend a rally in Houston this weekend for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where 50,000 Indian Americans are expected to attend.
    The meeting comes amid months of stalled trade talks between Washington and New Delhi, resulting in both sides taking retaliatory measures.
    Trump's presence at this Sunday's event, titled "Howdy Modi," is intended to renew U.S.-India relations and showcase support for the prime minister following strong criticism of the government's handling of the situation in Kashmir and tense trade talks between officials from both countries.
    It also follows what many political strategists called a "fumble" on behalf of Trump who, during a face-to-face meeting with Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, in July at the White House, Trump said Modi had asked him to intervene in the Kashmir dispute, which India's government denied and rejected.
    One insider told CNBC that seeing Trump on stage in Texas will quiet down this issue and show Pakistan that the U.S. is essentially backing India.
    "For Modi it's important that the U.S. doesn't support Pakistan overtly," Akhil Gupta, former chairman of Blackstone India, said in an interview.
    India's ambassador to the U.S., Harsh Vardhan Shringla, told CNBC that the discussion between Modi and Trump this weekend will be wide-ranging from "trade ties to regional and global developments."
    In addition to meeting Trump, Modi is scheduling meetings with energy CEOs including the heads of Exxon Mobil and Cheniere Energy. Two sources familiar with the situation said India wants to continue being a buyer of U.S. energy given the recent attack in Saudi Arabia, which took more 5% of the world's daily oil production off the market.
    After China and Japan, India is the third-largest importer of Saudi oil, research shows.
    Trade will also be a topic of discussion.
    In June, Washington removed India's preferential trade status while New Delhi unveiled tariffs on select U.S. goods amounting to $240 million.
    Following Modi's trip to Houston, he will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York and attend a roundtable with U.S. CEOs.
    "Modi needs U.S. business to invest in India aggressively," said Gupta.
    Other business leaders said the broader economic slowdown should push the two countries to work together.
    "The two countries need to increase trade as global economic growth slows," M.R. Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora and a former software executive, said in an email.
    Political strategists say Trump likely sees Modi's event in Houston as an opportunity to win some votes from a key minority group that historically has leaned left. Will the event lead more Indian Americans to vote for Trump in 2020?
    "It depends on how the event goes," said Rangaswami.

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