Trump urges India and Pakistan to reduce tensions in call with leaders

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In this Aug. 18, 2019, photo, President Donald Trump speaks with reporters in Morristown, N.J. (AP)
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Pakistanis shout anti-Indian slogans during a protest in Islamabad on August 19, 2019, after India stripped the region of its autonomy and imposed a lockdown two weeks ago. (AFP / AAMIR QURESHI)
Updated 20 August 2019

Trump urges India and Pakistan to reduce tensions in call with leaders

  • Indo-Pakistan relations have been further strained after India revoked the special status of its portion of the disputed Kashmir region

NEW DELHI, India: US President Donald Trump spoke with the leaders of India and Pakistan on Monday, discussing prospects for improved trade ties with Washington and stressing the need to reduce tensions over Kashmir between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
“Spoke to my two good friends, Prime Minister Modi of India, and Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, regarding Trade, Strategic Partnerships and, most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work toward reducing tensions in Kashmir. A tough situation, but good conversations!” Trump said in a Twitter post.
Relations between Islamabad and New Delhi, already hostile, have been further strained over India’s decision this month to revoke the special status of its portion of the Kashmir region that both countries claim. Pakistan reacted with fury, cutting transport and trade links and expelling India’s ambassador in retaliation.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Trump he was hopeful that India’s commerce minister and the US trade representative would meet again to discuss bilateral trade, the Indian government said in a statement.
Washington confirmed that Trump and Modi had spoken about trade.
“The two leaders further discussed how they will continue to strengthen US-India economic ties through increased trade, and they look forward to meeting again soon,” the White House said. Trump also stressed during the call the need to lower tensions between India and Pakistan, it said.
US and Indian trade negotiators ended talks in July without making major progress on a range of disputes over tariffs and other protectionist measures imposed by both sides that are straining bilateral ties, officials have told Reuters.
The two sides had resumed trade talks after Trump and Modi met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in June and agreed to seek to deepen the two countries’ relationship.
The White House said in a statement that Trump also had spoken with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to “discuss the need to reduce tensions and moderate rhetoric” with India over the situation in Kashmir.
“The president reaffirmed the need to avoid escalation of the situation and urged restraint on both sides,” the White House said in a statement, adding that Trump and Khan also agreed to work together to strengthen trade and economic ties. 


US service member killed in action in Afghanistan

Updated 40 min 12 sec ago

US service member killed in action in Afghanistan

  • The death brings the number of US military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan this year to at least 17
  • The latest US fatality comes after talks between Washington and the Taliban crumbled.

KABUL: An American service member was killed in Afghanistan, the US-led NATO mission said Monday, the latest US fatality after talks between Washington and the Taliban crumbled.
“A US service member was killed in action today in Afghanistan,” NATO’s Resolute Support mission said in a brief statement.
The death brings the number of US military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan this year to at least 17, just as Washington is seeking a way out of its longest war.
NATO did not immediately provide any additional information regarding the circumstances of the deadly incident.
About a week ago, President Donald Trump abruptly called off talks with the Taliban, which were aimed at paving the way for an American withdrawal from Afghanistan following 18 years of armed conflict.
“They are dead. As far as I am concerned, they are dead,” Trump said.
The announcement followed Trump’s cancelation of a top-secret plan to fly Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to the Camp David presidential compound outside Washington for talks.
Trump in part blamed the death of a US soldier in a huge Taliban bombing in Kabul for his change of heart on negotiations.
Until the talks were called off, there had been steadily mounting expectations of a deal that would see the US draw down troop levels in Afghanistan — from roughly 13,000 to about 8,000 next year.
In return, the Taliban would offer security guarantees to keep extremist groups out.
Last week, NATO said the focus of its Resolute Support mission remained “unchanged” — to train and advise local forces.
“NATO will stay in Afghanistan for as long as necessary to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists,” an alliance official told AFP.