United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for telling him that India was funding a library in Afghanistan, and wondered who would use a library in the country, AFP reported. Trump made the remark while criticising the assistance other countries have given to the US in Afghanistan, and said they were “just doing it to make me happy”.

“I could give you an example, you know I get along with India and the Prime Minister Modi, and he’s constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan,” Trump told reporters after his first Cabinet meeting of the year. “You know what that is? That’s like five hours of what we spend. And he tells it – and he’s very smart – and we’re supposed to say, ‘Oh, thank you for the library.’ I don’t know who’s using it in Afghanistan.”

It is unclear to which project Trump was referring. India has committed $3 billion in assistance to Afghanistan after US-led forces overthrew the Taliban regime following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Trump also drew a comparison between the expenses incurred by the US and other countries in the peace efforts. “What other countries have done for the last long period of time is given us some soldiers and then talk about it like it’s the end of the world,” he said. “And we are subsidising their military by billions and billions and billions of dollars, many, many, many times what those soldiers cost that country.”


‘Why isn’t India fighting Taliban?’

Trump also said he wanted regional countries, including India, Russia and Pakistan, to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan, PTI reported.

“Why isn’t Russia there [in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban]? Why isn’t India there? Why isn’t Pakistan there? Why are we [US] there?” Trump said in response to a question. “We are 6,000 miles away. But I don’t mind. We want to help our people. We want to help other nations.” Trump had earlier ordered the military to start withdrawing nearly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan.

Trump said the US efforts in Afghanistan cost billions of dollars. “I want people to treat us fairly,” he said, adding that other countries were involved in the peace process by “just sending some 100 or 200 soldiers”.

On US politics

The president claimed that he “essentially” fired his Defence Secretary James Mattis, despite the resignation letter suggesting that he resigned as he did not share Trump’s views, CNN reported. “I wish him well,” Trump said. “I hope he does well. But, as you know, President [Barack] Obama fired him and essentially so did I.”

There were also no signs of either the Republicans or the Democrats backing down after a meeting with Congressional leaders regarding the ongoing government shutdown. Further meetings will be held on Friday, although the president had on Wednesday said it “could be a long time” before the government reopens. The shutdown began on December 22 after disagreements on Trump’s demand for money for a wall on the US’ border with Mexico. He has demanded over $5 billion and has refused to back down, as have his opponents. He had threatened to completely shut down the border with Mexico unless he received the funding.