Ready to talk once Pakistan takes ‘concrete steps’, Modi tells Trump

indica News Bureau-


Prime Minister Narendra Modi told President Donald Trump that India is not shying away from talks with Pakistan, but it expects Islamabad to take some concrete steps before that.

Modi also told Trump that though India has the world’s second-largest Muslim population, there has been a “significantly lower level” of Indian Muslims participating in terrorism or getting radicalized.

Earlier, Trump backed India on Pakistan-sponsored terror and said Modi would “take care” of the issue while answering questions by reporters before they sat down for the bilateral talks.

“PM made clear that we are not shying away from talks with Pakistan, but for that to happen we expect some concrete steps to happen and we do not find any effort by Pakistan in taking those steps,” India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale later said while briefing reporters.

Modi and Trump had a “long discussion on terrorism”, he said. Modi explained in some detail the challenges India has faced on account of terrorism, especially in Jammu & Kashmir, in the past 30 years.

“The PM underscored that 42,000 lives have been lost to terror attacks in the last 30 years, and that it is incumbent on the international community to join together to fight the scourge,” Gokhale said. “The PM also mentioned that from a number of developed countries, a significant number of foreign fighters have participated in terror activities globally.

“He pointed out that though India has the largest or probably second largest population of citizens of Muslim faith, there has been significantly lower level of participation, and a lower level of radicalization than in other parts of the world, and this is an important fact that should be recognized by the international community,” he said, adding that Trump “acknowledged the fact”.

On Pakistan, Modi said India had never shied away from talking to Islamabad. But the “overtures that PM made over the years and ought to have been reciprocated have never been reciprocated”, he said, mentioning Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore in December 2015 “with minimum security”.

The terror attack on the Pathankot airbase followed immediately after and the perpetrators have still not been brought to justice, said Gokhale.

He said both Modi and Trump felt the two sides must come together to fight terrorism. “The focus of discussion this time was on the impact of terrorism and the fact that it needs to be understood where the origin of that is, and how we tackle it jointly,” he added.

On Trump’s offer of mediation, which he had made again during the press conference with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday, Gokhale said India’s position on the issue is fairly clear that “if there are issues to be discussed with Pakistan, it will be discussed bilaterally”. —IANS



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