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India Stands Ground on Kashmir, Tight-lipped on Trade: 9 Takeaways From the Modi-Trump Meet

For now, Trump is willing to go with Modi’s assurance that he has Kashmir under control. To that extent Modi’s big worry would be internal rather than external.

Zakka Jacob | CNN-News18@Zakka_Jacob

Updated:August 26, 2019, 5:15 PM IST
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India Stands Ground on Kashmir, Tight-lipped on Trade: 9 Takeaways From the Modi-Trump Meet
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump shake hands during their meeting on the sidelines of the G7 summit in the French town of Biarritz. (Photo: Twitter)
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New Delhi: At their first meeting after the government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday told US President Donald Trump that all issues between India and Pakistan were bilateral and there was no scope for any third-party mediation.

Modi’s categorical assertion paid off as Trump backed off from his earlier repeated offers of mediation on the Kashmir issue, and said the two neighbours can sort it out on their own. The bilateral trade issues between India and US, however, remained off the table during the meeting as both sides remained tight-lipped over the differences.

Here are the key takeaways from the meeting on the sidelines of the G7 summit in the French town of Biarritz:

1. India standing its ground has paid off. Trump did not mention the word mediation even once and did not even show any interest in lingering on the Kashmir issue. He quickly moved onto other issues like trade.

2. Modi clearly told Trump that whatever is there to discuss is strictly between India and Pakistan. No third country need interfere.

3. Modi also cleverly said we would not like to inconvenience any third country by involving them in our problems. It was a light-hearted way of telling Trump to back off on Kashmir.

4. Trump’s offer of mediation was diluted substantially by the state department even before Trump and Modi met in Biarritz.

5. For now, Trump is willing to go with Modi’s assurance that he has Kashmir under control. To that extent Modi’s big worry would be internal rather than external. Kashmir flaring up when the curbs are eventually relaxed would be more worrying than Pakistan fomenting trouble there.

6. Afghanistan is still a big priority for Trump to drawn down the residual American troops. He wants other countries to help, particularly Pakistan and India.

7. There was evident bonhomie on display between the two when Trump jokingly said Modi speaks English, but he doesn’t speak Hindi. Trump nudged Modi and Modi held Trump’s arm and both of them broke into laughter.

8. Both sides were tight-lipped about trade differences. But clearly India is not Trump’s No.1 target on trade given the amount of questions he took on US-China trade war with Modi sitting by his side.

9. The only country that seems to have worked out Trump on trade is Japan, by agreeing to buy thousands of tonnes of corn directly from American farmers.

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