Millennium Post

Trump 'encourages' Modi to improve relations with Pakistan: WH

Trump encourages Modi to improve relations with Pakistan: WH

United Nations: US President Donald Trump "encouraged" Prime Minister Narendra Modi to improve relations with Pakistan and fulfil his promise to better the lives of the Kashmiri people, according to a readout issued by the White House of the bilateral meeting between the two leaders.

Prime Minister Modi and President Trump met on Tuesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session here - their fourth meeting since Modi came to power for a second term in May this year.

Their 40-minute talks mainly focused on the bilateral trade and issues related to terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

President Trump noted good progress on defence and security cooperation, the readout said.

"Additionally, the President encouraged Prime Minister Modi to improve relations with Pakistan and fulfil his promise to better the lives of the Kashmiri people," it added.

India maintains that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral one and no third party has any role in it.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

India's action evoked strong reactions from Pakistan which downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian Ambassador.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its "internal matter".

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the Prime Minister explained in detail to President Trump the challenges faced by India due to terrorism, especially in Jammu and Kashmir.

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 told reporters at a briefing.

"We expect that the 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 said.

He added that Prime Minister Modi explained to President Trump that immediately after his visit to Lahore in 2015, there was an attack on the Pathankot Airbase and Pakistan has not brought the perpetrators of the crime to justice.

"The Prime Minister has made it clear that we are not shying away from talks with Pakistan. 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," Gokhale said.

Prime Minister Modi put forward India's perspective on the issue of terrorism and President Trump showed understanding," the foreign secretary said, adding that the US leader also recognised and accepted that this is a challenge that both the countries face.

The Prime Minister also noted that among the significant number of foreign fighters (in terror groups like Islamic State and Al-Qaeda) the level of participation from India is very low.

He also told President Trump that though India was home to world's second largest Muslim population, there was lower level of radicalisation among them, Gokhale said.

Prime Minister Modi put forward India's perspective on the issue of terrorism as President Trump vowed to protect innocent civilians from the threat of "radical Islamic terrorism" during the 'Howdy, Modi' event in Houston on Sunday.

Both leaders also expressed concerns about the situation in Afghanistan and shared ideas about how to work together to promote security and prosperity in the country, it said.

The two leaders discussed progress on different aspects of their strategic partnership and upcoming opportunities to ensure it remains strong, it added.

Trump reaffirmed the importance of greatly increasing trade between the US and India, and highlighted the need for "resolving barriers to free, fair, and reciprocal trade, which includes improving United States companies' market access in India," it said.

The meeting between Trump and Modi comes two days after they met on Sunday in Houston and shared the stage at 'Howdy, Modi' gala event where they displayed a close friendship and a common vision on fighting terrorism.



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