Modi, Trump agree to further boost India-US ties

New Delhi, Jan 8  Days after US President Donald Trump’s jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over India’s role in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan, the two leaders agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations in the year ahead.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, Modi and Trump exchanged New Year greetings in a telephonic conversation on Monday evening.

“They expressed satisfaction at the progress in India-US strategic partnership in 2018,” the statement said.

“They appreciated developments such as the launch of the new 2+2 Dialogue mechanism and the first-ever trilateral summit of India, the US and Japan.”

Modi, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on the idelines of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires last November.

The three countries along with Australia, are part of a quad that was revived in 2017 seeking to work for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

Last September, the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue was held here in which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then Defence Secretary Jim Mattis participated.

Tuesday’s statement said that Modi and Trump also “took positive note of growing bilateral cooperation in defence, counter-terrorism and energy and coordination on regional and global issues”.

“They agreed to continue to work together for further strengthening India-US bilateral relations in 2019.”

Monday’s conversation between the two leaders took place after Trump on January 2 said that India was not doing enough for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

In his first Cabinet meeting, Trump asked India, Russia, Pakistan and other neighbouring countries to take the responsibility for Afghanistan’s security as he defended his move to withdraw troops from that country.

Trump also referred to Modi as an example of how world leaders were talking about their contributions that were nowhere near the billions of dollars the US was spending.

India hit back with sources here saying that New Delhi does not send troops abroad except under specific UN mandate.

Pointing out that India plays a significant role as a development partner in Afghanistan, the sources said this partnership was built on the specific needs and requirements worked out with the Afghan government.