Prior to taking off today with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to India, Ivanka Trump posted on Twitter today that she was “honored to return to India … to celebrate the grand friendship” between the country and the United States. For Ivanka, who is traveling along with her husband Jared Kushner, the visit marks a return to the nation just two years after she paid a visit to the Global Entrepreneurial Summit in Hyderabad along with current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi has been focused on keeping a promise he made to President Trump to provide a throng of supporters along the motorway in transit to a massive rally that is expected to host more than 100,000 attendees. Workers were busy constructing walls, planting flowers, and raising advertisements promoting the friendship between the nations, which came along with some criticism, as some perceived the walls as a way of hiding some of the shanty homes and slums from the view of the motorcade. Nevertheless, Modi seems intent on maintaining the “bromance” that he appears to desire with Trump for the president’s two day visit.
This may explain the purpose of bringing Ivanka and Jared Kushner along with him on the trip. The agenda for the president appears to be largely ceremonial, with a photo visit to the Taj Mahal, and a traditional dinner on the schedule. Ivanka and Jared, however, have been known to be key instruments of the Trump administration, and with increased friction between the nations on trade issues, a renewed agreement is long past due. Both countries have hit each other with restrictive tariffs and a new defense deal is on the table that involves the $3.5 billion purchase of military equipment from the United States.
So while President Trump and Prime Minister Modi exchange pleasantries and may again share an awkward hug, most likely Ivanka and Jared are going to get to work on a new deal. Both had limited experience in public policy and foreign affairs when Trump assumed office, but over the course of Trump’s term they have learned on the fly, with Jared pushing the US-Mexico-Canada trade deal and Ivanka working on the Pledge to America’s Workers program.