By Hakan Copur

WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump will meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston to discuss bilateral relations between the countries, said the White House.

Both leaders will participate in an Indian diaspora event in Houston, Texas on Sept. 22, according to the White House statement on Sunday.

The meeting will "emphasize the strong ties between the people of the United States and India, to reaffirm the strategic partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies, and to discuss ways to deepen their energy and trade relationship," it said.

According to Indian PTI news agency, they will jointly address to more than 50,000 Indian-American at the "Howdy, Modi! Shared Dreams, Bright Futures," event organized by the Texas India Forum.

The Indian prime minister welcomed the decision in a Twitter message on Sunday and said: "The special gesture of President @realDonaldTrump to join us in Houston highlights the strength of the relationship and recognition of the contribution of the Indian community to American society and economy."

The meeting comes amid the tense relationship between India and Pakistan due to the escalating Kashmir dispute, as Islamabad seeks Trump's support to resolve the issue.

– Kashmir dispute

Already soured relations between the two South Asian nuclear rivals, have further plummeted after India scrapped the special provisions to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The state has been under a near-complete lockdown since Aug. 5.

Several rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.

From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status under the Indian constitution, which allowed it to enact its own laws.

The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.

India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.

* Writing by Gozde Bayar

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