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US pushes India for Pakistan talks

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks as he hosts a special event commemorating the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi during the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday. (Photo: AP). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

NEW DELHI, Sep 26, 2019, The Asian Age. Few hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Donald Trump in New York, the United States issued a statement asking India “to improve relations with Pakistan” and “better the lives of the Kashmiri people,” reported The Asian Age.

A White House readout of the Modi-Trump meeting was quoted by website and news agency reports as stating, “The President encouraged Prime Minister Modi to improve relations with Pakistan and fulfil his promise to better the lives of the Kashmiri people.”

The White House readout was also quoted as saying, “Finally, both leaders expressed concerns about the situation in Afghanistan and shared ideas about how to work together to promote security and prosperity in the country.”

The remarks show that the US is keen that talks between India and Pakistan resume despite the fact that Islamabad has not stopped sponsoring cross-border terrorism.

Washington, eager that US troops exit Afghanistan, is relying heavily on Pakistan for that, and its statement — especially the reference to Kashmir — is being seen as a move by the Trump administration not to antagonise Pakistan and protect American interests. On trade, it said, “The President reaffirmed the importance of greatly increasing trade between the United States 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. The President noted good progress on defence and security cooperation.”

Both countries are confident of a trade deal but are bargaining hard to ensure more access to each other’s markets.

In the wake of repeated offers of mediation between India and Pakistan by Mr Trump, Mr Modi had told the US President during their bilateral meeting in New York on Tuesday that India is “not shying away from talks with Pakistan”. PM Modi had also said that India had expected Pakistan to take “certain steps” against terrorism, but it had not done so.

President Trump had on Tuesday said that he was hopeful PM Modi and Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan would “get together” and “work out something on Kashmir”, adding that “we all want to see that”.

On the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terror, he said PM Modi had “given the message loud and clear” to Pakistan, a reference to Mr Modi’s remarks at the Houston event of the Indian diaspora on Sunday, adding that PM Modi would be able to “handle” the situation.

Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale had said India was quite satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, adding that New Delhi had given a “good understanding” to the US side on the challenges faced by India due to terrorism including in J&K.

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