Pakistan, China on radar as Trump, Modi cosy up
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump asked Pakistan not to allow its territory to be used for terror strikes against other countries, and in a thinly veiled reference told China to ensure its One Belt, One Road project respected sovereignty of others.
A joint statement -- “Prosperity through partnership” – released after the first meeting between the two leaders on Monday also said the US was offering to sell India unarmed Guardian naval drones.
The leaders urged Pakistan to ensure terrorists didn’t operate from its soil and to “expeditiously bring to justice” those involved in the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot and “other cross-border terrorist attacks carried out by Pakistan-based groups”, the statement said. (HIGHLIGHTS)
Speaking to media at White House Rose Garden, the two leaders promised greater cooperation on counter-terrorism. “Fighting terrorism and doing away with the safe shelters, sanctuaries and safe havens will be an important part of our cooperation,” Modi said.
Trump said the two were determined to destroy terrorist organisations and the radical ideology that drove them. “We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism,” he said.
On China, the joint statement echoed Indian objections to the One Belt, One Road project but without naming them. It said the two leaders “support regional economic connectivity through the transparent development of infrastructure and the use of responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment”.
India has objected to the China’s ambitious plan for a new Silk Route as the centrepiece of the project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which New Delhi says challenges its sovereignty by lending legitimacy to Pakistan’s claim over PoK.
Modi and Trump also stressed the “importance of respecting freedom of navigation, overflight, and commerce” in the Indo-Pacific region and “called upon all nations to resolve territorial and maritime disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law”, a reference unmistakably to the South China Sea dispute.
Modi and Trump first met privately for 40 minutes, double the allotted time, and then were joined by their aides for a longer meeting.
First lady Melania Trump was by her husband’s side to welcome Modi and then hosted a reception for him and his team and joined them for a working dinner.
The President’s daughter, Ivanka, was part of the Trump entourage as the two leaders together addressed the media at the Rose Garden.
Also present was Trump’s closet adviser and Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner, who was part of the US team for the delegation-level meetings and was at the dinner as well.
The Indian side was pleased with the meetings and foreign secretary S Jaishankar, a man not given to hyperboles, told reporters, “I would say it was one of the most productive visits I have seen to the United States.”
Ashley Tellis, a South Asia expert with Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former official of the George W Bush administration, said the outcome of the meetings was satisfactory for both sides.
“India got what it wanted from the United States on terrorism, defence technology, strategic cooperation in the Indian Ocean, and clean energy. The United States registered its interest in free and fair trade, in completing the sale of nuclear reactors to India, and in increasing market access in India,” he said.
Trump made a direct pitch for trade as he called for “a trading relationship that is fair and reciprocal”, adding “it is important that barriers be removed to the export of US goods into your markets, and that we reduce our trade deficit with your country”.
India raised its own market access issues as well, Indian officials said but one of them conceded, on condition of anonymity, “we really have a long way to go on these issues”, referring to long-standing US demand for strong Intellectual Property Rights system, lower tariffs and market access.
The issue of the nuclear reactors to be set up by American companies in India following the 2005 India- US civil nuclear deal was also discussed, with the leaders looking forward to the completion of the contractual agreement between Westinghouse and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, the statement said.
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