by Kumail Jaffer

The US President was charmed by Mr Modi as the two bounced nationalist ideas off each other during their first meeting after Trump entered the White House. Saluting India’s rapid growth, he said that Washington would work together more deeply with New Delhi. However, recent concerns over security and trade have thrown the once-strong relationship into disarray.

The two populist leaders met this weekend at the G20 summit on Osaka to discuss two main issues; trade and security. They shared a warm relationship in 2017.

India’s decision to purchase S-400 missiles from Russia – as opposed to buying US Patriot missiles – has put Washington on high alert. Trump will also be wary of India getting closer to China and Russia.

The Trump administration is concerned that their F-35 stealth fighters would be open to Russian subterfuge – and the S-400 missiles wouldn’t be compatible with NATO systems.

Referring to a 2017 law that sanctions other countries for buying Russian weapons, a US official said last week: “With respect to the S-400, we’re urging all of our allies and partners, India included, to forgo transactions with Russia that risk triggering the CAATSA sanctions.

“This is a time we will be encouraging India to look at alternatives.”

US panic was further exacerbated by Turkey’s defiance – President Erdogan appeared to strong arm Trump into allowing Ankara to purchase the S-400 missiles without punishment.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, however, said the S-400 issue wasn’t even discussed during the talks.

By putting such a controversial issue on the back burner, it may lull the two nations into a false sense of diplomatic security that could act as a stumbling block down the road.

However, the issues between the two nations also extend to the economic sphere.

New Delhi raised tariffs on more than 20 items from the US last month after the US decided not to exempt India from their own import duties on steel and aluminium. Mr Modi accepted Trump’s logic to protect American firms through the tariffs – but wanted special trade privileges to continue.

Bilateral agreements meant that $6 billion worth of Indian good had tariff-free access to the American market – but this was withdrawn in May. Mr Modi will hope that Trump’s decision to resume trade talks with economic rival China reflects a desire to also cooperate with his nation.

He will be encouraged further by Trump’s glowing rhetoric after their meeting – after weeks of threatening words.

The US President said: “We’ll be doing great with India. India is doing good. Everybody wants to be a part of America’s economy.”

However, Trump’s loyalty to his voter base – which includes steelworkers – may present a dilemma.

Economic logic suggests that tariffs benefit domestic manufacturers by discouraging the importation of steel and other materials.

But in exempting India, Trump may rekindle a close relationship with the powerful Modi – but betray millions of voters.

After the summit, Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka called India “a critical trading partner, a critical security partner and a critical ally”.