Trump, Modi discuss Maldives, Afghanistan, Myanmar, N.Korea over a phone-call
In unheralded moves, US President Donald Trump has been tilting away from Pakistan. He has also been deepening ties with his other South Asian ally, India to counter an aggressive China in the sub-continent. As part of this strategy, he discussed the situation in Maldives, Afghanistan, Myanmar and N. Korea with his Indian counterpart, PM Narendra Modi on a phone-call. Here's what they discussed.
Trump, Modi express concern over political crisis in Maldives
Modi and Trump discussed the escalating political crisis in Maldives. They stressed the "importance of respecting democratic institutions and rule of law." Maldives recently plunged into crisis after President Yameen refused to comply with the SC's verdict that quashed the terrorism convictions against nine leading opposition figures. This included the country's first elected president Mohamed Nasheed. SC judges were arrested and Yameen declared emergency.
Both leaders are committed to supporting Afghanistan's security and stability
White House said that in their first phone call this year, "affirming President Trump's South Asia strategy" the two leaders also "reiterated their commitment to supporting Afghanistan's security and stability." Recently, Washington has cut security aid to Pakistan, after they failed to rid Taliban and Haqqani network militants. These have been fuelling Afghanistan's long drawn-out war. India has also increased its engagement in Afghanistan.
The fate of 680,000 Rohingya refugees was also discussed
Modi-Trump discussed their views about the dilemma of the 680,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Due to the pressure on Bangladesh's economy, Myanmar agreed to a systematic return of these refugees to their homeland. However, US doesn't believe that it's the right time for their return.
They discussed steps to ensure N.Korea's denuclearization
Apart from the Indian subcontinent, Trump also sought India's views on N.Korea's rapid nuclearization. Trump has ramped up efforts to build international pressure against Pyongyang's missile programs, fearful that they might attack US. Though India-N.Korea have diplomatic offices in each other's capitals, Delhi has banned most trade items, except food and medicine. India has defended the diplomatic ties as ensuring "open channels of communication."
What is the significance of this phone-call?
Trump-Modi expressed optimism about the US-India '2+2' ministerial dialogue involving defense and diplomatic officials in April. Trump taking Modi's opinion on international issues signals Washington's efforts to treat India as an equal partner. Further, for India, strengthened ties with US, a refurbished "Act East Policy," surging economic growth and enhanced military capabilities fortify India's presence in the Asia-Pacific region.