Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York. Before the meeting, Trump stressed the need for dialogue between India and Pakistan and said that it would be great if the two countries “can work out something on Kashmir”.
“I really believe that Prime Minister Modi and [Pakistan] Prime Minister [Imran] Khan will get along when they get to know each other,” Trump told reporters. “I think a lot of good things will come from that meeting... It will be great if they can work out something on Kashmir.”
Hours before the meeting, Trump reiterated his offer to mediate in the dispute between India and Pakistan over the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
When questioned about what his message to Islamabad would be after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement admission on Monday that the Pakistan Army had trained Al Qaeda, Trump said: “The message [to Pakistan] is not for me to give, it is for Prime Minister Modi to give. And he gave that loud and clear the other day. Very loud message and I am sure he will be able to handle that situation.”
“You have a great PM, he will solve all problems,” Trump said in his response to another question from the media.
At the interaction, Trump also called Modi the “father of India” and compared his presence at the “Howdy, Modi” rally in Houston on Sunday with that of American rock-and-roll singer Elvis Presley. “What the event showed is how much I like the country of India and how much I like your prime minister,” he said. “They love this gentleman to my right. People went crazy, he is like an American version of Elvis.”
“I remember India before... it was very torn,” Trump added. “There was a lot of dissension, lot of fighting. And he brought it all together. Like a father would bring it together. Maybe he is the father of India. We would call him the father of India... I think he has done a fantastic job.”
On the trade deal between India and United States, Trump said both countries were doing very well. “We will have a trade deal soon,” he said. “We will have a bigger trade deal down the road.”
Focus on fighting terror
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale after the meeting between Modi and Trump said the prime minister shared his concerns on terrorism in the context of Jammu and Kashmir, PTI reported.
He said the 40-minute meeting between the two leaders focused on terrorism. “He told President Trump that 42,000 lives have been lost in the last 30 years due to terrorism in Kashmir and sought the support from the international community to fight the scourge of terrorism,” Gokhale said.
The foreign ministry said Trump has agreed that the two countries must fight terror together.
“We expect that overtures the Prime Minister has made over the years ought to have been reciprocated and none of them have been reciprocated, beginning with Prime Minister’s invitation of the oath taking ceremony and then as Prime Minister said his unique trip to Lahore in December 2015 with minimum security,” Gokhale added.
Gokhale said Modi told Trump that India has never shied away from talking to Pakistan, but Islamabad has not reciprocated it. “But for that to happen, we expect some concrete steps to be taken by Pakistan. And we do not find any effort by Pakistan taking those steps,” the ministry said.
He said Modi also recalled how he had invited the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony in 2014 and had flown to Lahore with minimal security afterwards.
Trade deal not final
Gokhale did not reveal details on why a trade deal between two countries could not be finalised. “We are optimistic that we will be able to conclude an understanding or an agreement fairly soon,” Gokhale was quoted as saying by PTI.
He said it was wrong to interpret that the trade deal was derailed. “These are issues which are complex,” the foreign secretary added. “These issues involved industries of both the sides. It involves jobs on both sides.”
Gokhale said reconciliation and the “gives and takes” in a deal require certain amount of discussions and balance. “We have made significant progress in that regard, and we are quite confident that we will make further progress in the future,” he said.
He said both Trump and Modi had reviewed the discussions and have “narrowed the areas of difference”.
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