New Delhi, Feb 25, 2020-
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday skirted all the controversies related to the ongoing violent protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government by saying that he has a great deal of faith in his leadership.
At the very outset of his press conference following his two-day whirlwind trip, he said, “I’m not going to be at all controversial because I don’t want to blow up the two days plus two days of travel.”
In response to the view that the Citizenship Amendment Act recently enacted by the Modi government promoted religious discrimination, Trump said, “We did talk about religious freedom, including that of Christians. Prime Minister Modi was incredible in what he told me. He wants people to have religious freedom. They have worked very hard to have great and open religious freedom. If you look at what’s going on relatively in other countries, they have religious freedom.”
Trump also said that he believed in Modi’s leadership. Applauding Modi, he said the Prime Minister had given him a very powerful response. “He told me India has 200 million Muslims and a fairly short while ago, they had only 14 million. They are working very closely with the Muslim community,” he said.
India, he said, has got a phenomenal future. “You can rarely think of a place that has a better future than India, especially with the leadership like Prime Minister Modi’s,” Trump said, adding that India is going to be a tremendous player over the next 50 or 100 years. “You are talking about the largest population in the world, also in terms of its heritage and potential wealth. They have great potential,” Trump said.
On Pakistan sponsored cross-border terrorism, Trump said Prime Minister Modi and he talked a lot about it and he acknowledged that it is a problem.
“No question it’s a problem, but it’s a problem both India and Pakistan are working on,” he said, adding that he has a very good relationship with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and he will do whatever he can to help.
He also reiterated his offer of mediation over the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan. “Anything I can do to mediate and help, I’ll do. Kashmir has been a thorn in a lot of people’s sides for a long time. There are two sides to every story,” he said.
On the US peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, Trump said that India was supportive of it. “India and Prime Minister Modi would like to see it happen,” he said, adding that the ceasefire (reduction of violence pact) was effective.
“We are pretty close to two days under our belt without violence, or a minimum of violence. People want to see it, everybody is happy about it, even people who are normally against me 99.9 per cent of the time, everybody would like to see it happen.
“People are really happy to see that we are trying very hard. We’ll make a decision as to what the final outcome will be,” Trump said in reference to the peace deal that is to be signed in four days.
Defending his decision, he said the US wasn’t really serving as a military force but as a police force in Afghanistan. “But we are not a police force. After 19 years, we’d like to bring our young people back home, that is where they want to be. We’ll always have intelligence there, we want to watch the area; the area is a hotbed of problems. If something happens, we will hit them hard,” the US President said.
Conceding that it was not particularly a victory for the US, he said, “We could win easily if I wanted to kill millions of people but I don’t want to kill people, I don’t want to kill innocent people.”
Throughout the press conference, he repeatedly and profusely praised India, Prime Minister Modi and the grand reception accorded to him at Ahmedabad’s Motera stadium by over 110000 people on Monday. (Agency)