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There is no other leader in the contemporary world who can be compared to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in exercising charm in the realm of diplomacy. Wherever he goes he charms the leaders, lawmakers and the people and makes them a closer partner of India.
This ability of the Prime Minister was on display to the world in the recently concluded Houston event. He has already met one-on-one with American President Donald Trump six times since Mr. Trump entered the Oval Office and this in itself is a historical record in the evolving Indo-US relations.
The latest one-on-one dialogue between Mr. Modi and President Trump took place on Monday in New York where both the leaders have gone to attend the United Nations General Assembly annual meet. The Indo-US bilateral meeting in the largest venue for multilateral diplomacy caught global attention. It was relatively a short meeting between the two leaders but, has several key takeaways.
The notable physical chemistry between Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump was vividly displayed. While a day earlier, in another historic meet at Houston in Texas, the world witnessed the friendly body language of the two leaders. The meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly testified that mutual friendship, admiration and understanding between the Indian Prime Minister and the US President was proven. President Trump recognized the role and achievements of Prime Miniter Modi and called him the ‘father figure’ of contemporary India.
In the realm of international diplomacy, role of leaders and physical chemistry between them plays a considerable role in cementing ties, strengthening bonds and improving cooperation between countries. Hence, the personal equation between Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump cannot be underestimated.
Contrary to speculations and questioning by commentators, the American President made it amply clear that he would refrain from interfering in the Kashmir issue, no matter how hard Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan repeatedly appeals to him for doing so. What a section of the media has been harping on is that Mr. Trump has hinted at least six times, his willingness to mediate in the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. What the media reports and commentators are missing is the clear and loud assertion by the American President that he would do so if only India would agree to that.
A big takeaway from the Modi-Trump meet at New York is a crystal clear signaling that the trade differences between the two countries would be resolved soon and a new trade deal would be announced. This has come straight from the horse’s mouth and there is a reason to believe that the trade differences would not be allowed to disrupt the deepening strategic partnership between India and the United States.
Another significant outcome of the meeting is clear demonstration of American faith in the Indian Prime Minister’s methods, approach and abilities to tackle cross-border terrorism. More than once, President Trump expressed his conviction in response to media questions that Prime Minister Modi has been capable in handling Pakistan-sponsored terror activities in India. This has deeper meaning in the sense that the Trump Administration does not oppose the Modi Government’s handling of the Kashmir issue, including revocation of Article 370 and 35 A of the Indian Constitution related to Jammu and Kashmir.
It would be unwise to expect more explicit and open support of the United States to the current situation. Despite a substantial presence of US troops in Afghanistan, Taliban’s continuing violent activities and the need for Pakistani cooperation in tackling Afghan problem, President Trump has gestured support to Prime Minister Modi’s efforts to bring peace and development to Kashmir. That President Trump did not mention Kashmir developments even once in his main speech, is a point that needs adequate emphasis.
The outcome of the Modi-Trump dialogue is truly an extraordinary and charming triumph of Mr. Modi’s diplomacy.
Script : Prof.Chintamani Mahapatra , Pro Vice-Chancellor & Chairman,American Studies Centre, JNU