Trump: Anti-CAA protests internal matter, PM working closely with Muslim community
GN Bureau | February 25, 2020
On the second and last day of US president Donald Trump’s India visit, prime minister Narendra Modi said the real foundation of Indo-US friendship is people-to-people relations. Trump, meanwhile, sidestepped the contentious issues of the protests against the new citizenship law, telling a joint press conference that it was India’s internal matter.
“The most important foundation of this special friendship between India and the US is the people to people relations. Whether they are professionals or students, the Indian diaspora has made the biggest contribution to the US. These ambassadors of India are not only contributing to the US economy with their talent and hard work, but also enriching the American society with their democratic values and rich culture,” Modi said.
Referring the chemistry between him and the US president, he said this was the fifth time they were meeting in the last eight months. Modi also spoke about the “unprecedented and historical” welcome given to Trump at the stadium in Motera on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, in Gujarat. “Yesterday, it was once again proven that the relations between India and the US are not only between the two governments but they are people-driven and people-centric. This relationship is among the most important partnerships of the twenty-first century,” he said.
“Today, president Trump and I have decided to take our relations to the level of a comprehensive global strategic partnership. Trump’s contribution to taking the ties to this level is invaluable,” he added.
Trump began his first India visit as president on Monday, with the citizen reception in Gujarat and an afternoon at the Taj in Agra. On Tuesday, the two sides got down to business, with bilateral and global discussions held at the Hyderabad House.
In their discussions, the prime minister told the media, the two leaders had positive talks on all aspects of the partnership including defence and security, strategic partnership in energy, technology cooperation, global connectivity, trade relations and people-to-people ties.
Trump faced several tricky questions but refused to be drawn into any controversy. On Kashmir, he said it was “obviously a big problem between India and Pakistan”, but expected the two to “work out their problem”. On one hand, he said he’d do whatever he can as a friend, he clarified that he was not going to play the role of a mediator. He said in Tuesday’s meet, the two leaders “discussed Pakistan at length” and described the Kashmir conundrum as a “big thorn” in the India-Pakistan relations.
As Delhi faced unrest with violent clashes over the Citizenship Amendment Act, Trump maintained he had heard about it but it was an internal matter. He also added that Modi had told him that he had been working closely with the Muslim community.
On Tuesday, Trump and first lady Melania Trump began the official schedule with a visit to the Rajghat, followed by a courtesy meeting with president Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. After a ceremonial banquet there in the evening, they return to the US.
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