Photo: Modi’s Facebook

Washington (PTI): Describing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “great Prime Minister”, President Donald Trump on Monday discussed with him ways to push the bilateral strategic ties amid US’ strong message to Pakistan by declaring Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist.

Modi, meeting Trump for the first time, was accorded a warm welcome with the US President and the first lady Melania coming out of the White House to receive him.

At the White House portico, they exchanged pleasantries and had a brief interaction before going inside for the summit meeting.

As the two leaders sat for the meetings Trump, who had recently described Modi as a “true friend”, said it was “a great honour” for him to receive the prime minister.

“He is such a great Prime Minister. I have been speaking with him and reading about him. He is doing a great job. Economically, India is doing very well and in so many other ways. I would like to congratulate him for this,” he said in brief comments.

Modi expressed gratitude to Trump and the first lady for the warm welcome extended to him, which included a ‘working dinner’, the first of its kind under the current US administration.

“It is a welcome to 125 crore [1.25 billion] people of India. For that I extend hearty thanks to the President and the first lady,” the prime minister said.

Modi said Trump has been following India’s growth march and economic progress.

He recalled that Trump had visited India in 2014 even before he became the Presidential candidate and had made “warm observations” about him, which he could never forget.

Modi became the prime minister on May 26, 2014.

Among the issues on the discussion table of Modi and Trump were counter-terrorism cooperation, defence partnership, global cooperation, trade and energy.

The tone for the first summit meeting was set by the US State Department which declared Syed Salahuddin, chief of Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, as a ‘global terrorist’, just a few hours earlier.

The State Department action sent out a strong message against the terrorism emanating from Pakistan which is hurting India.

Ahead of the meeting between Modi and Trump, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis separately called on the prime minister and discussed ways to step up counter-terrorism cooperation and reviewed the situation in Afghanistan.