How PM Modi’s hard talk on Pak at Trump meet swung Kashmir issue India’s way

Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked US President Donald Trump through the history of Pakistan’s involvement in terrorism in Jammu& Kashmir after the latter asked him why Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan kept talking about genocide in the Kashmir Valley leading to a nuclear conflagration, people familiar with details of the 40-minute long bilateral meeting between the two leaders said.

The people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that Modi used the opportunity to demolish Khan’s unsubstantiated allegations and narrated his personal efforts to forge normal ties with Pakistan and how Islamabad responded to these with terror attacks on India. Specifically, the people said, Modi told Trump about his unscheduled December 25, 2015 visit to Lahore, which was undertaken despite severe risks, and how the outcome of the entire exercise was not peace but an attack on the Indian Air Force’s Pathankot air base within a week.

The Indian leader also told the US president about the insincerity on the part of Pakistan in apprehending the terrorists behind the Pathankot attack despite all proof being handed over to Islamabad. PM Modi established that India wants normal ties with Pakistan. but only after Islamabad gives up on using terrorism as a tool of its state policy, the people added.

“President Trump wanted to know why Khan kept talking about Modi, RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party), genocide, massacre, and an all-out India-Pak confrontation leading to the nuclear dimension. PM Modi told him all about Pakistan’s direct support to terrorism in Kashmir….the nuclear blackmail has become a standard talking point of Imran Khan at the UNGA {United Nations General Assembly},” said a senior official.

The other topic covered in the bilateral conversation was a trade deal between India and the US. While the two sides have taken tough positions, both the leaders were optimistic in closing the deal soon , the people said. “There are two aspects to the trade deal. While one part is related to a basket of some 12 items on which duty/ tariff issues are being negotiated, the other is a larger trade deal {which encompasses all trade issues}. Let me say that the first one is just weeks away while the second one will be closed within months,” said a second senior official.

According to the people, both PM Modi and President Trump reviewed the progress of the trade talks in the run-up to the historic Houston event and it was only then that the US leader expressed optimism about the trade deal being concluded shortly. US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Indian commerce minister Piyush Goyal are in touch with each other in a bid to conclude the first part of the deal.

While Modi will spend Wednesday interacting with top US CEOs, Khan will try and sell his version of the Kashmir story to the US media. External affairs minister S. Jaishankar is scheduled to participate in the QUAD meeting with Japanese, US and Australian foreign ministers as well as attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) foreign ministers meeting on September 26. Trump has extended his stay in New York till Thursday.

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