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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

On dialogue with Pak, PM Modi conveys India’s clear stand to Donald Trump

Prime Minister Narendra Modi told US President Donald Trump on Monday that “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence” wasn’t conducive to peace.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2019 08:41 IST
Rezaul H Laskar and Yashwant Raj
Rezaul H Laskar and Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Washington
PM Modi raised the situation in Afghanistan during his conversation with Donald Trump and called for protection of the gains made in the war-torn country.
PM Modi raised the situation in Afghanistan during his conversation with Donald Trump and called for protection of the gains made in the war-torn country.(AP)
         

Against the backdrop of the Pakistani leadership’s belligerent claims that India’s change of the status of Jammu and Kashmir could lead to war, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told US President Donald Trump on Monday that “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence” wasn’t conducive to peace.

Modi made the remarks during a 30-minute phone conversation with Trump, according to an Indian readout. The contact between the two leaders came amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of New Delhi’s decision on August 5 to revoke Kashmir’s special status and split the state into two union territories.

A White House statement said Trump “conveyed the

importance of reducing tensions between India and Pakistan and maintaining peace in the region”.

Over the past few days, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly accused India of having plans to trigger a military conflict in Kashmir, even saying that his country’s army had information that the Indian government intended to “take action” in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India has dismissed these allegations and described the changes in Kashmir as purely an internal matter.

Watch | Pakistan plans to keep Kashmir boiling till Imran Khan’s UNGA speech 

Without referring to Pakistan and its leadership and the Kashmir issue, the external affairs ministry’s readout of the phone conversation quoted Modi as saying, in the context of the regional situation, that “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence by certain leaders in the region was not conducive to peace”.

Modi also “highlighted the importance of creating an environment free from terror and violence and eschewing cross-border terrorism without exception”. India, he said, is committed to “cooperate with anyone who followed this path, in fighting poverty, illiteracy and disease”.

India has for long linked any sort of engagement to Pakistan ending its support for terror groups based on its soil. This condition has been reiterated by the Indian leadership in the wake of the changes in Kashmir.

The phone conversation was the first contact between Modi and Trump since the US president triggered a storm by offering, during a July 22 meeting with Khan, to mediate on the Kashmir issue. Since then, the US administration has clarified that there has been no change in its position on Kashmir, which should be handled bilaterally by India and Pakistan. The Indian government also briefed the US and other permanent members of the UN Security Council on the reasons for the changes in Jammu and Kashmir.

During a phone conversation with Khan on Friday, Trump reiterated the “importance of India and Pakistan reducing tensions through bilateral dialogue regarding the situation in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Khan, however, has kept up the shrill rhetoric and questioned the safety of India’s nuclear arsenal in a tweet on Sunday. He said the world must “seriously consider the safety & security of India’s nuclear arsenal” and said this was an issue that impacts the region and the world.

Also read | 1964: When parties wanted Article 370 abrogated

Modi also raised the situation in Afghanistan during his conversation with Trump and called for protection of the gains made in the war-torn country.

“Recalling that today marked the one hundred years of the independence of Afghanistan, the Prime Minister reiterated India’s longstanding and unwavering commitment to work for (a) united, secure, democratic and truly independent Afghanistan,” the readout said.

With reports suggesting that the US and the Taliban are close to a deal on the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and a counter-terrorism guarantee that Afghan soil won’t be used by terror groups, New Delhi has been concerned about any hasty drawdown of troops that could create a vacuum in the country.

Modi recalled his meeting with Trump on the margins of the G-20 Summit in Osaka in June and “expressed the hope that the commerce minister of India and the US Trade Representative would meet at an early date to discuss bilateral trade prospects for mutual benefit”.

Differences on key trade issues, including market access, withdrawal of India’s benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) system and retaliatory tariffs, e-commerce and data localisation, have emerged as irritants in an otherwise robust bilateral relationship.

The phone conversation covered bilateral and regional matters and “was marked by the warmth and cordiality which characterises the relations between the two leaders”, the readout said. Modi said he appreciated remaining in regular touch with Trump.

The brief White House statement on the conversation said Trump discussed regional developments and the US-India strategic partnership. The two leaders also discussed how

they will continue to strengthen bilateral economic ties

through increased trade, and they said they looked forward to “meeting again soon”.

People familiar with developments said there is a possibility that Modi and Trump could meet on the margins of the G-7 Summit at Biarritz during August 25-26. They are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next month.

Also read: Opinion | How the British see the dilution of Article 370

First Published: Aug 19, 2019 22:06 IST