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Trump dwells on trade with India, sidesteps questions on Pak, terrorism

By Vishal S

New York, Sep 24: During his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Donald Trump was asked many questions on terrorism and Pakistan's role in it. The US President seemed to dodge some very specific questions on Pakistan and ISI's role in terror activities and instead chose to tread a diplomatic path.

Modi-Trump meeting

When reporters pressed Trump to speak on Pakistan's role in terrorism and asked about 500 odd terrorists waiting across LoC to infiltrate into Kashmir, the President pointed at PM Modi and said "I am sure he will take care of it." Trump clearly did not want to be seen as taking sides when it came to matters concerning India, Pakistan, Kashmir and terrorism.

Trump smartly diverted the talk towards trade. Trump on Tuesday said his country will soon have a trade deal with India to boost economic ties between the two nations.

"I think very soon. We are doing very well. (US Trade Representative) Robert Lighthizer who is right here negotiating with India ... I think, very soon we will have a trade deal," Trump told reporters here when asked if there is any trade deal is expected in the talks between India and the US.

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    "We will have a larger deal down the road ... but we will have a trade deal," Trump added.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Donald Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session and discussed with him bilateral ties. The two countries are negotiating a trade package to iron out issues and promote the two-way commerce. The US has been pressuring India to lower duties on its products and address the trade gap.

    [Concerned about "different views" India and Pakistan have: Trump]

    Speaking at the press conference, Modi said: "As far as trade is concerned, I am very happy that in Houston, in my presence there was an agreement signed by Indian company Petronet for USD 2.5 billion, which is the amount of investment the Indian company is going to do in the energy sector and this will mean that in the years to come, this will result in trade of an amount of USD 60 billion and create 50,000 jobs which I think is a big initiative taken by India."

    The Petronet deal, the largest by an Indian company in US LNG, came after Modi had a meeting with the CEOs of top US-based oil companies on Saturday last week. India is demanding exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under their Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), greater market access for its products from sectors, including agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.

    ["Modi will take care of it" says Trump on terrorism; Calls PM 'Father on India']

    On the other hand the US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices, and cut on import duties on some ICT products. The US has also raised concerns over high trade deficit with India. In 2018-19, India's exports to the US stood at USD 52.4 billion, while imports were USD 35.5 billion. Trade deficit dipped from USD 21.3 billion in 2017-18 to USD 16.9 billion in 2018-19. India received FDI worth USD 3.13 billion from the US in 2018-19, higher than USD 2 billion in 2017-18.

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