WASHINGTON/NEW DELHI: At their first ever meeting today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump struck a common note on terrorism, saying eliminating it is among the top-most priorities for the two nations. In a joint briefing with President Trump after a one-on-one meeting and delegation-level talks at the White House, PM Modi said “We talked about terrorism, extremism and radicalisation and agreed to cooperate on this.” Ahead of the meeting, the US State Department had declared Syed Salahuddin, chief of terror group Hizbul Mujahideen, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in a move that India called a vindication of its stand against cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
1. Talking tough on terror, President Trump at the joint press briefing said both nations are “determined” to destroy terrorist organisations and the radical ideology that drives them. “Both our nations have been struck by the evils of terrorism and we are both determined to destroy terrorist organisations and the radical ideology that drives them. We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism,” he said.
2. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said the two leaders also called upon Pakistan to not let its territory be used to launch terror attacks. “They asked Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of 26/11, Pathankot and other terror attacks to justice,” Mr Jaishankar said.
3. “The leaders called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries. They further called on Pakistan to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups,” the Indo-US joint statement said.
4. Earlier, welcoming the order against Salahuddin, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said, “It does vindicate India’s longest-standing position that cross border terrorism behind disturbance created in Kashmir since last year. The outfits that Syed Salahuddin leads, they have perpetuated, from the territory of Pakistan and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, cross border terrorism against India.”
5. At the joint press briefing, President Trump said the relationship between India and the US has never been stronger and better. “India has a true friend in the White House,” he said, adding “India is the fastest growing economy in the world. We hope we will be catching up with you very soon.”
6. President Trump also said he is keen to work with PM Modi on creating a “fair and reciprocal” trading relationship between the two countries and called for the removal of “barriers” for the export of US goods into Indian markets.
7. “When he (President Trump) came to India in 2014… he was full of very warm remarks and observations about me, I still remember them,” said PM Modi in the White House, thanking Mr Trump and his wife Melania Trump for their warm welcome. Praising Mr Modi, the US President said, “You’ve done a great job. Economically, India’s doing very well.”
8. The two leaders spent more than four hours together, ending with a working dinner. PM Modi is the first foreign dignitary to be hosted for dinner by President Trump at the White House.
9. This was PM Modi’s first meeting with President Trump; they have spoken thrice on the phone since the latter took office earlier this year. Today’s meeting was aimed at building a personal rapport and senior government officials said they hope for “chemistry” between the two leaders. The initial signs were upbeat, with President Trump describing Prime Minister Modi as a “true friend!” on Twitter, and PM Modi posting that he “greatly looked forward” to the one-on-one.
10. The one-on-one meeting in the Oval office was followed by delegation level talks between the two sides in the Cabinet Room. After issuing a joint press statement, the two leaders had a working dinner.