The Prime Minister recalled their meeting in Osaka on the margins of the G-20 summit in end-June earlier this year.
New Delhi: In an interesting development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to US President Donald Trump for half an hour on Monday evening, during which Mr Modi, in an obvious reference to Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s recent antics, told President Trump that “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence by certain leaders in the region was not conducive to peace”. This marks the first top-level exchange between the two leaders since India bifurcated its state of J&K and revoked Article 370 earlier this month. It may be recalled that Pakistan PM Imran Khan is engaging in a vitriolic propaganda offensive against India, including a bizarre diatribe on Sunday comparing India to Nazi Germany.
In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said “their (Modi-Trump) 30-minute conversation covered bilateral and regional matters and was marked by the warmth and cordiality which characterises the relations between the two leaders”.
Mr Modi also remarked that “he appreciated remaining in regular touch with President Trump”, with sources saying it was a “mutually-decided call”. It is still unclear whether Mr Modi and Mr Trump will have a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, on August 26. In another obvious reference to Pakistani support to cross-border terrorism during the phone call, Mr Modi also apprised President Trump of the “importance of creating an environment free from terror and violence and eschewing cross-border terrorism without exception”. In an indication towards New Delhi’s stand that dialogue and cooperation with Pakistan is possible only if Islamabad gives up its support for terrorism, Mr Modi also “reiterated India’s commitment to cooperate with anyone who followed this path, in fighting poverty, illiteracy and disease”.
The phone call took place in the wake of a similar phone call last week when Mr Trump had spoken to Pakistan PM Imran Khan and urged the reduction of tensions through bilateral India-Pakistan talks. The phone call between Mr Modi and President Trump on Monday is therefore being seen as a possible American attempt to play an indirect role in reducing tensions between the two nuclear-capable neighbours.
The phone call follows an uproar last month when US President Donald Trump had claimed that Mr Modi had asked for his mediation on the Kashmir issue with Pakistan. New Delhi had swiftly denied the claim. But the US President did not seem to have taken the cue, declaring again just days later that he would “certainly intervene” between India and Pakistan on Kashmir if they wanted him to.
India had subsequently rejected the US President’s repeated offers of mediation on the Kashmir issue, with New Delhi telling Washington “in clear terms that any discussion on Kashmir, if at all warranted, will only be with Pakistan and only bilaterally”.
The efforts to ensure peace in Afghanistan also appear to have been discussed, with Mr Modi “recalling that today marked 100 years of the Independence of Afghanistan” and reiterating “India’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to work for a united, secure, democratic and truly independent Afghanistan”.
On the trade issue which has been a favourite topic of discussion and concern for the US President, Mr Modi “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”.
In a statement, the PMO said: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephone conversation today with US President H.E. Mr Donald Trump. Their 30-minute conversation covered bilateral and regional matters and was marked by the warmth and cordiality which characterises the relations between the two leaders. The Prime Minister recalled their meeting in Osaka on the margins of the G-20 summit in end-June earlier this year.”