United States President Donald Trump on Monday said he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan soon, and maintained that tensions between the countries over the Kashmir dispute has reduced, PTI reported.
“I’ll see Prime Minister Modi and I will – we’ll – be meeting with [prime ministers of] India and Pakistan,” Trump told reporters at the White House. Trump claimed a “lot of progress has been made in reducing tension” between India and Pakistan, without mentioning the Kashmir dispute.
Trump will address the Indian diaspora in Houston at the “Howdy Modi” event on September 22 along with Modi. However, it is not clear where or when Trump will meet Imran Khan.
According to the president’s schedule, he might meet Khan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Session in New York later this month. After addressing more than 50,000 Indian-Americans at Modi’s upcoming rally, Trump will travel to Ohio and is later expected to fly to New York to attend the UN session.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said Monday’s White House announcement that Trump will join the “Howdy Modi” event suggests that he considers Modi to be his friend and ally.
“President Trump is signalling clearly that while he may have hosted [Pakistan] Prime Minister Imran Khan, it is Prime Minister Modi that he considers his ally and friend,” Haqqani told PTI. “That [“Howdy, Modi” event] will certainly depress those who thought Khan’s last trip to Washington represented a breakthrough in US-Pakistan relations,” he added.
Modi on Monday welcomed Trump’s decision to join him and said he was delighted. “A special gesture by @POTUS, signifying the special friendship between India and USA,” the prime minister had said in a tweet. He had added that Trump’s gesture highlighted the strength of the relationship and recognition of the contribution of the Indian community to American society and economy.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have ratcheted up since New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India for Kashmir since Independence, did not take the decision well.
Trump has offered a number of times to mediate in the Kashmir dispute but has been turned down by India. The US president first inserted himself into the dispute in July by claiming that Modi had asked him to mediate. India refuted the claims but the Trump administration said the president stood firm on his statement. On August 20, Trump said the Kashmir crisis “is a big deal”, adding that it was an “explosive situation”. On September 10, he told reporters that the conflict was “a little bit less heated right now than [it] was two weeks ago”.
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