Trump finds Modi’s J&K remarks in Houston 'aggressive'

Trump finds Modi’s J&K remarks in Houston 'aggressive'

India hopes Prime Minister’s meeting with US President in NY today will turn the tide again

US President Donald Trump (AFP Photo)

United States President Donald Trump said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a very “aggressive statement” on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in Houston and he had not been aware that such a statement would be made.

A day after his bonhomie with Modi was on full display at the NRG stadium in Houston, Trump told journalists before a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in New York that he would want New Delhi to treat all well and be humane in its approach to people in Kashmir. Even as New Delhi repeatedly rejected his offers over the past few weeks to mediate between India and Pakistan, the US President once again underlined that he would be “an extremely good arbitrator” on the issue of Kashmir.

When Khan requested the US President to urge New Delhi to “lift the siege” in Kashmir, Trump even reassured him to “talk about that” with Modi. He also went on to say that Iran was a much bigger hub of terror than Pakistan.

New Delhi was not amused by Trump’s remarks before his meeting with Khan. Modi, however, is expected to make an attempt to turn the tide again when he would meet US President in New York at around 9:45 pm (Indian Standard Time) on Tuesday.

“Sure. I’d like to see everything work out. I want it to be humane. I want everybody to be treated well,” Trump said when a journalist asked him if he was concerned about the human rights situation in Kashmir. The US State Department in the past few weeks issued several statements, expressing concerns over restrictions, communication blackout and detention of the leaders and political activists in J&K.

US President and Pakistan Prime Minister were interacting with media-persons before they had a meeting on the sideline of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“And — I mean, I heard a very aggressive statement yesterday (at “Howdy! Modi” event in Houston on Sunday). I don’t have to say that.  I was there,” Trump said, adding: “I didn’t know I was going to hear that statement, I had said.  But I was sitting there and I heard a very aggressive statement yesterday from India, from the Prime Minister (Modi),”

He, however, noted that the statement was very well received by over 50,000 Indian-Americans, who were in the audience. “But,” he reiterated, “It was a very aggressive statement.”

Trump was at the NRG stadium in Houston on Sunday. He was listening to Modi when Prime Minister’s remarks about the rationale of his government’s August 5 move to end the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and to reorganize the state into two Union Territories evoked applause from the audience. Prime Minister also lashed out at the Pakistan government, albeit without naming it, for opposing New Delhi’s decisions.

Trump also said that his offer to play the role of a mediator between India and Pakistan remained on the table and he would be willing to help resolve the dispute over Kashmir if both New Delhi and Islamabad agreed to it.

“I think I’d be an extremely good arbitrator. I’ve done it before, believe it or not, and I’ve never failed as an arbitrator. I’ve been asked to arbitrate disputes — pretty big ones — from friends.  And I’ve done it in a good, successful fashion,” US President said in response to a query on the possibility of him playing the role of a mediator. “If I can be of help — you know that — if I can be of help, let me know.  But you’d have to have the assent also from the other side.”

New Delhi in the past rejected US President’s offer to mediate between the two South Asian neighbours, arguing that that the 1972 Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan and the 1999 Lahore Declaration had left no scope for third party to play any role in resolving the “outstanding issues” between the two South Asian neighbours.

Pakistan Prime Minister told US President that India had deployed 900,000 security personnel to keep eight million people of J&K under siege. “I mean, it’s a huge humanitarian crisis taking place,” Khan said, urging Trump to nudge Modi to “at least lift the siege”. “So we’re going to talking about that in a little while,” said Trump. Added Khan: “We’ll discuss that.”

Trump and Modi are likely to meet in New York again on Tuesday.

“Well, I really have been pointing much more to Iran.  I mean, Iran if you look at what, that’s been really the state of terror.  And I’ve been saying it (Iran) is the number one state of terror in the world,” Trump said, when a journalist asked if he agreed with India’s allegation that Pakistan was a hub of international terrorism.   

Speaking at the “Howdy! Modi” event in Houston on Sunday, Modi took a tacit jibe at Khan and Pakistan Government, saying that New Delhi’s decision on J&K was being opposed by people, who could not manage the affairs of their own country and nurtured terrorism. US President was in the audience when Prime Minister criticized Pakistan.

Though Trump’s remarks during his and Khan’s interaction with media were not music to the ears in New Delhi, the officials were hoping that the meeting between Prime Minister and US President late at night on Tuesday would help narrow the differences in perception over the situation in Kashmir.

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