Trump, Modi discuss Maldives, Afghanistan, Myanmar, North Korea over phone call
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump have “expressed concern” over the political turmoil crisis in the Maldives during a phone call that appeared to signal to the Indian Ocean nation that it needs to fix the crisis without involving other countries.
The two leaders’ discussions about the Maldives seemed to be the point of the call on Thursday given President Abdulla Yameen’s decision, taken in a desperate bid to save his embattled government, to rope in other actors by sending special envoys to China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
The Maldives has insisted it had no intention of cutting out India from its outreach though a proposal to send an envoy to New Delhi was cancelled at the request of the Indian government.
“Both leaders expressed concern about the political crisis in the Maldives and the importance of respect for democratic institutions and rule of law,” the White House said in a readout of the phone call, the first between Modi and Trump this year.
The Indian Ocean archipelago was plunged into turmoil last week after Yameen, who has tilted towards China to shore up his position, refused to implement a Supreme Court order freeing imprisoned political leaders. Yameen instead imposed a state of emergency and detained two top judges.
According to the White House readout, Modi and Trump also “pledged to continue working together to enhance security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region” – a reference to the Chinese threat in the region as seen by India and the US.
They also discussed the situation in Afghanistan in the aftermath of Trump’s new South Asia strategy — and in Myanmar and ways to address the plight of Rohingya refugees.
Steps to ensure the denuclearisation of North Korea, a trouble spot causing the US much concern recently, also figured in the discussions.
“Finally, the leaders agreed to strengthen security and economic cooperation as they look forward to the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between their defence and diplomatic officials in April,” the White House statement said.
The dialogue will involve external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and their US counterparts secretary of state Rex Tillerson and defence secretary Jim Mattis.
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