Trump joining Modi event will be message for world: Jaishankar


US President Donald Trump joining Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diaspora event in Houston next week will be a message for the world and it is up to Pakistan what they wish to read, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said here on Tuesday.

Modi, during his visit to the US to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), will be addressing the Indian diaspora at an event called ‘Howdy Modi’ in Houston on September 22, and will be joined by Trump as a special gesture.

Addressing a press conference on the achievements of the External Affairs Ministry in 100 days of the Modi government’s second term, Jaishankar spoke about Indo-US relations and said these have come a long way and were in “good health”.

To a question, the minister described as a “matter of great honor” Trump accepting to attend the diaspora event on the invitation of the Indian-American community. “And obviously, we will welcome President Trump in the warmest manner,” he added.

Jaishankar, who has served as Indian Ambassador to the US, said the Houston event is the third time Modi would be doing a major community event in the US. “And I regard this as a great achievement of the India-American community,” he said. “If today, there is an event of this size and have someone like President Trump coming there, this shows where the community has reached, how it is regarded in the US, the respect it commands out there. It is obviously the achievement of the community,” he added.

He said with such events, the community definitely stands more motivated, united, inspired by the fact that Modi is the Prime Minister.

Asked whether Trump’s presence at the event would be a message for Pakistan, the External Affairs Minister said there are going to be multiple messages there. “And obviously it will be up to Pakistanis to read what they wish to read and the same applies to other parts of the world.”

Noting that communities and countries develop a reputation, he said, “In my sense, it’s not just Pakistan, the whole world will be watching the Houston event and take lessons from there what Indian-Americans have achieved, what India-US state of relations are today.”

The minister said India-US relations have gone through repeated changes with administrations like that of former US President Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. “The India-US relationship has come a long way and if we look today at the quality of the relationship, amount of the trade, amount of political comfort, amount of security cooperation, amount of movement of people, students, research, there is no facet of relationship today which hasn’t sort of gone upwards over the last 20 years,” the former diplomat said.

“The trajectory was always upwards. Even today if we are planning an event like Houston, the thinking from our part is very bi-partisan. And from their (US) side also the approach is bi-partisan. I want to reassure all of you people India-US relationship is in very good health,” he said.

Jaishankar also said he was very satisfied about what has happened in the last few years. “And I am very optimistic about where we are going,” he said.

Talking about trade issues with the US, he said, “As the relationship grows, there will be some issues. The only thing there will be no problem if you don’t trade. And the trade problem happens with the people who are closest too because those are the ones with whom you do most of the trade.” Jaishankar noted that the trade issues are in fact normal, in many ways reflective of a very substantial relationship.

Asked what would happen if the issue of Kashmir comes up during Modi’s US visit, he said, “Don’t worry much about what people will say on Jammu and Kashmir… Let me tell you one thing, there is complete predictability about my position. My position has been clear since 1972 and my position is not going to change. At the end of the day it is my issue. So on my issue, my position has prevailed and will prevail. So don’t worry about those aspects.”

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