Trump says he spoke to PM Modi, govt denies it | India News

NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON: India made it clear that US President Donald Trump‘s remarks suggesting a recent conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his reference to the PM being in a bad mood over tensions with China may be out of place with officials pointing out that the two leaders had not spoken since April 4.
For the second consecutive day, India distanced itself from a Trump statement. On Thursday, it made it clear that Trump’s offer for mediation — he tweeted that he had “informed” India and China about his readiness to do so — was not needed in view of bilateral mechanisms. The brush-off after Trump’s bid to insert himself into a high-stakes boundary dispute did not seem to dampen Trump’s spirits who told journalists on Friday, “I did speak to Prime Minister Modi. He is not in a good mood about what’s going on with China.”
Indian officials were quick to point out that the last time Modi and Trump spoke on the phone was on April 4, when the conversation was dominated by the US asking India to ease the ban on hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) exports. In other words, there has been no recent engagement between Modi and Trump.
China’s official media Global Times observed when the first offer was made: “The latest dispute can be solved bilaterally by China and India. The two countries should keep alert on the US, which exploits every chance to create waves that jeopardise regional peace and order.”
In Washington, Trump told reporters, “I like Modi. I like your Prime Minister a lot. He’s a great gentleman. A great gentleman. They have a big conflict going with India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people. Two countries with very powerful militaries. India is not happy, and probably China is not happy.”
He prefaced his remarks, with a little bit of pumping from a fawning Indian journalist, about how popular he was in India, with recollection of his trip to the country and how “they like me in India certainly more than the media likes me in this country”.
Trump is known to be a phono-hog who breaks protocol all the time for informal conversations with friends, but critics also suggest he is a fantasist who makes up things — for instance when he claimed Modi asked him to intercede in India’s problems with Pakistan over Kashmir.
Trump’s offer to mediate between India and China comes at a time when the two countries are negotiating a particularly tough de-escalation after Chinese troops stopped patrolling by Indian soldiers at several points in eastern Ladakh, leading to stand-off situations in Pangong Tso and Galwan Valley.
The Indian government’s decision to swiftly correct the record vis-a-vis Trump would help in making negotiations with Beijing smoother. India has a long history of not accepting third-party mediation. But for China, already wary of India’s growing relationship with the US, boundary negotiations would become immeasurably more difficult if the US was put in the mix.

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