Trump likely to discuss Pak-India tensions in talks with Modi


Washington:    Ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to India on February 24-25, the White House stated that the president would “encourage a reduction in tensions between India and Pakistan” and to “engage in bilateral dialogue with each other to resolve their differences (over Kashmir).”
A senior administration official responded to a question that if the U.S. President would offer to mediate on the Kashmir issue again during his upcoming Indian visit, and said, “I think what you ll hear from the President is very much encouraging a reduction in tensions between India and Pakistan, encouraging the two countries to engage in bilateral dialogue with each other to resolve their differences.”
“[…] I think the President will urge both countries to seek to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control (LoC) and refrain from actions or statements that could increase tensions in the region,” said the official.
Importantly, the White House also said that Trump will raise the issue of religious freedom with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India next week, noting that the U.S. has great respect for Indias democratic traditions and institutions and will continue to encourage it to uphold those values.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan American federal entity, published a ”factsheet”, claiming that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) represents a significant downturn in religious freedom in India.
“President Trump will talk about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom both in his public remarks and then certainly in private. He will raise these issues, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is extremely important to this administration,” a senior official at the White House told reporters in a conference call on Friday.
The official was responding to a question on whether the president was planning to speak to Prime Minister Modi on the CAA or the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
According to the CAA, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 will get Indian citizenship except Muslims.
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will lead a 12-member American delegation to Ahmedabad, Agra and New Delhi on February 24 and 25.
Responding to a question on the Afghanistan peace process, the official said the US would just encourage India, as it does with regional countries, to do whatever it can to support this peace process so that it can be successful and can potentially end 19 years of military, diplomatic, economic engagement.
“You know, that we can end the military engagement. We will be continuing our diplomatic and economic engagement, which has been there over the last 19 years. But we certainly would look to India to support this peace process – an important country in the region, important to the overall stability of the region. So I think if the issue comes up, that is what would be the request from the president,” the official said.