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Modi, Trump harp on terror, skip non-deliverables

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27 June 2017

A much awaited meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump turned out to be a damp affair despite the palpable warmth on display. The one-to-one meeting was marked by bonhomie on either side, right from the time when Modi and Trump first shook hands on the White House portico to the joint statement.

The meeting was marked more by rhetoric on the scourge of terrorism and Pakistan's active support to militant groups and a call to Pakistan not to let its territory be used to launch terror attacks.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said the Indo-US joint statement, which called terrorism a "global scourge", also asked Islamabad to bring the perpetrators of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, Pathankot and other terror attacks to justice.

Beyond that, a dealmaker president and a nationalist prime minster could achieve little to declare to the world of any deliverables achieved during their first meeting.

Trump, who generally ignores the need to engage nations on mutual interests, however, was mindful of the close decadal cooperation between two nations and respectful of the gravity of bilateral ties. But these were confined to promises on fighting terrorism, economic cooperation, joint maritime exercise and investing in India's future. He also vowed to live up to his campaign promise of being India's "true friend" at the White House.

"I have always had a deep admiration for your country and your people, the rich culture and traditions," said Trump, adding, "the relationship between India has never been better and stronger."

Trump particularly mentioned their common affinity towards social media that helps them "hear directly from the elected members."

The US President, however, seemed appreciative of the fact that Prime Minister Modi nor his country has any prejudice against the Trump administration nor hold in contempt the ideas he stands for.

Modi, in his turn, invited Ivanka Trump to lead US delegation to the global entrepreneurship in India, and also invited the President and his family to visit India.

The prime minister extended cooperation in areas where the US seeks greater participation from India - such as committing to peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan and imposing sanctions against North Korea.

There was more synergy on dealing with terrorism, and both leaders used their strongest words to condemn it, with Trump saying that the US and India will join to target the radical ideology behind terrorism.

"The security partnership between the US and India is incredibly important. Both our nations have been struck by the evils of terrorism and we are both determined to destroy terrorist organisations and the radical ideology that drives them. We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism," he said.

Modi said: "Eliminating terrorism is among the topmost priorities for us," and told the media that delegation-level talks discussed "terrorism, extremism and radicalisation and agreed to cooperate on this. Fighting terrorism and doing away with the safe shelters, sanctuaries, and safe havens will be an important part of our cooperation," he said.

In a joint statement issued after their meeting, President Trump sadd the two countries ''can help chart an optimistic path into the future, one that unleashes the power of new technology, new infrastructure, and the enthusiasm and excitement of very hardworking and very dynamic people.''

''I look forward to working with you, Mr Prime Minister, to create jobs in our countries, to grow our economies, and to create a trading relationship that is fair and reciprocal. It is important that barriers be removed to the export of US goods into your markets, and that we reduce our trade deficit with your country.''

''I was pleased to learn about an Indian Airlines recent order of 100 new American planes, one of the largest orders of its kind, which will support thousands and thousands of American jobs.  We're also looking forward to exporting more American energy to India as your economy grows, including major long-term contracts to purchase American natural gas, which are right now being negotiated, and we will sign them. Trying to get the price up a little bit,'' he added.

''To further our economic partnership, I'm excited to report that the Prime Minister has invited my daughter, Ivanka, to lead the US delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India this fall. And I believe she has accepted. 

''Finally, the security partnership between the United States and India is incredibly important. Both our nations have been struck by the evils of terrorism, and we are both determined to destroy terrorist organizations and the radical ideology that drives them. We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism. Our militaries are working every day to enhance cooperation between our military forces.  And next month, they will join together with the Japanese navy to take place in the largest maritime exercise ever conducted in the vast Indian Ocean,'' the president said.





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