Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump today struck a common note on terrorism, vowing to strengthen efforts to fight the scourge and eliminate safe havens for terrorists.
“Eliminating terrorism is among the topmost priorities for us,” Modi said in his joint statement with the US president at the White House Rose Garden.
“We talked about terrorism, extremism and radicalisation and agreed to cooperate on this. Fighting terrorism and doing away with the safe shelters, sanctuaries, and safe havens will be an important part of our cooperation,” he said.
Trump said both nations are “determined” to destroy terrorist organisations and the radical ideology that drives them.
“The security partnership between the US and India is incredibly important. 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.
“Our militaries are working every day to enhance cooperation between our military forces, and next month they will join together with the Japanese navy to take part in the largest maritime exercise ever conducted in the Indian Ocean,” Trump added.
In their joint statement, the two leaders also touched on trade, security, bilateral co-operation and instability in Afghanistan, among other issues.
Modi termed his talks with Trump, the first between the two leaders, an “important page in the history of India-US relationship”. He said he discussed in detail with Trump defence and security cooperation between the two nations.
Describing both countries as “global engines of growth”, the prime minister said trade, commerce and investment are key areas of mutual co-operation. “Technology, innovation and knowledge economy are also areas were are actively looking at,” he said.
Trump said he is keen to work with Modi on creating a “fair and reciprocal” trading relationship between the two nations and called for the removal of “barriers” for the export of US goods into Indian markets. “It is important that we reduce our trade deficit with your country,” he added.
The US president said that ties between India and US have never been stronger and better.
He expressed pleasure about an order by an Indian airline company for 100 new American planes, calling it one of the largest orders of its kind, which will support thousands and thousands of American jobs.
“We’re also looking forward to exporting more American energy to India as your economy grows, including major long- term contracts to purchase American natural gas, which are right now being negotiated, and we will sign them. Trying to get the price up a little bit,” he said.
Referring to the GST reform to be implemented across India starting next month, Trump said it was “the largest tax overhaul in your country’s history”.
“We’re doing that also, by the way. Creating great new opportunities for your citizens. You have a big vision for improving infrastructure, and you are fighting government corruption, which is always a grave threat to democracy,” he said.
India is the fastest growing economy in the world Trump said and added, “We hope we will be catching up you very soon.”
Both leaders also expressed concern over rising instability in Afghanistan caused by terrorism, and agreed to continue strengthening coordination for ensuring peace and stability in the war-torn country.
Trump also called for the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programs to be “rapidly” tackled, and thanked Modi for “joining us in applying new sanctions against Pyongyang.”
“The North Korean regime is causing tremendous problems and is something that has to be dealt with, and probably dealt with rapidly,” Trump said.
Trump also described Modi and himself as “world leaders in social media” — a reference to their multi-million strong following on online platforms — and said it has enabled them to hear directly from their citizens.
“I’m proud to announce to the media, to the American people and to the Indian people that Prime Minister Modi and I are world leaders in social media,” Trump said in his remarks at the White House Rose Garden, following his first bilateral meeting with Modi.
“We’re believers. Giving the citizens of our countries the opportunity to hear directly from their elected officials and for us to hear directly from them. I guess it’s worked very well in both cases,” Trump said.
Trump, who is known for his prolific and at times controversial tweets, and Modi are widely followed on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
While Trump has 32.8 million followers on Twitter, Modi comes a close second with over 31 million followers. On Facebook, Modi has the lead over Trump, who has 23.6 million followers while the Indian leader has 41.8 million followers.
(With PTI inputs)