Wednesday 25 September 2019 5:29 AM UTC
NEW DELHI Sept 25: US President Donald Trump — facing pointed questions from the media today after his yesterday’s comments on terrorism and Pakistan — today emphasized the need for dialogue between India and Pakistan.
At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of their big bilateral meet, President Trump also dropped a hint.
“I believe these two great gentlemen (PM Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan) will get together and work something,” he said.
India has repeatedly emphasised that terror and talks cannot go hand in hand and turned down repeated overtures from Pakistan. President Trump has not reiterated his offer for mediation, made yesterday in the company of Imran Khan.
Asked about what his message would be to Islamabad in view of the reports on Imran Khan’s admission about terrorists operating from Pakistani soil and the Indian army chief’s comments about terrorists standing ready to infiltrate into India, President Trump said:
“The message (to Pakistan) is not for me to give, it is for Prime Minister Modi to give. And he gave that loud and clear the other day. Very loud message and I am sure he will be able to handle that situation”.
Stressing on the need for a dialogue, President Trump said, “I really believe Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Khan will get along when they get to know each other. I think a lot of good things will come from that meeting”.
The foreign ministry later said PM Modi and President Trump had focussed at length on terror during their 40-minute bilateral meeting.
PM Modi had “explained in detail the challenges we have faced, especially terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir”, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said. The Prime Minister told him that “42,000 lives have been lost… told him it is incumbent on the world to fight this scourge,” he said.
“The Prime Minister also said we have never shied away from talking to Pakistan,” he added.
President Trump has agreed that the two countries must fight terror together, the foreign ministry said.
On Monday, asked if he agreed with India that Pakistan is the epicentre of terror, President Trump had said, “I have been pointing much more to Iran”.
Today, he indicated that he stood by the statement. “You mentioned Pakistan, but Iran would have to be on top of the list (on terrorism) because if you look at terrorist states it has been No. 1 for very long time,” he said in response to a question.
At the huge public meeting at Houston on Sunday, where he shared stage with PM Modi, President Trump had said he understood that border security was vital to India, as it was to the US.
A day later, ahead of his meeting with the Pakistan Prime Minister, he had offered to mediate between India and Pakistan.
“If I can help, I will certainly help… If both (India and Pakistan) want, I am ready to do it… I would be an extremely good arbitrator,” he told reporters.
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