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Pak, China on Trump, Modi radar

Published on 28 Jun. 2017 12:02 AM IST
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Vows to destroy ‘radical Islamic terrorism’
Underlining that the security partnership between United States and India is “incredibly” important, President Donald Trump, after his first face-to-face with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the two countries, struck by the “evils of terrorism”, are “both determined to destroy terrorist organisations and the radical ideology that drives them. We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism”.
And in a clear and direct reference to Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism, the joint Indo-US statement said the leaders “called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries”. They said Pakistan must expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai strikes, the Pathankot airbase attack and other “cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups”.
Stepping into the warm afternoon sun at the White House Rose Garden after their meeting Monday, Trump said he was looking forward to work with Modi.
Reading out his prepared speech, Modi said their meeting marks a “very important page in the history of the collaboration and cooperation between our two nations”. And he used a new description in the Indo-US discourse — of developing a “mutually beneficial strategic partnership” — different from the previous Obama administration. Modi, who spoke for more than ten minutes, gave importance to counter-terrorism cooperation and said they discussed “terrorism, extremism and radicalisation”, the major challenges facing the world today. “Fighting terrorism and doing away with safe shelters, sanctuaries and safe havens will be an important part of our cooperation,” he said, Trump by his side.
Since these statements were made hours after Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin was designated by the US State Department as a global terrorist, the two sides decided to set up a new “consultation mechanism on domestic and international terrorist designations listing proposals” — something which will be useful to work on listings like that of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.
“With respect to our common concerns on terrorism, we will also enhance our sharing of intelligence, and exchange information to deepen and expand our policy coordination as far as possible,” Modi said. The meeting of minds on counter-terrorism cooperation became the big takeaway, and was reflected in the three bear hugs between Modi and Trump during their interaction.
Moving ahead, the two leaders also developed a common position on China’s assertiveness, and this time it went beyond South China Sea to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In a sub-section of the joint statement, “Democratic Stalwarts in the Indo-Pacific Region”, it said that Modi and Trump support bolstering regional economic connectivity through transparent development of infrastructure and the use of responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring “respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity”, “the rule of law”, and the environment — a clear reference to the CPEC.
Trump too made a reference to the rollout of the GST regime: “In just two weeks, you will begin to implement the largest tax overhaul in your country’s history”. And then added “we’re doing that also, by the way”. The two sides agreed on “free and fair trade” and said that they plan to undertake a “comprehensive review” of trade relations and their teams to find creative ways to improve bilateral trade.
“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,” Trump said, adding that India is creating “thousand and thousands of jobs” by buying aeroplanes.

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