PM Modi, Donald Trump speak over phone, discuss political crisis around world

The talk comes amid the United States' massive crackdown on Pakistan for its failure to act on terrorism.

PM Modi, Donald Trump speak over phone, discuss political crisis around world

NEW DELHI: US President Donald Trump spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone on a wide range of issues, informed the White House on Thursday. The talk comes amid the United States' massive crackdown on Pakistan for its failure to act on terrorism.

The two leaders spoke on enhancing security in Indo-Pacific region, Afghan war, ongoing political crisis in the Maldives, the situation of Myanmar's Rohingya refugees and North Korea`s nuclear program.

"Affirming President Trump's South Asia strategy, they reiterated their commitment to supporting Afghanistan's security and stability," the White House said in a readout of the phone call between Trump and PM Modi, the first in 2018.

Last month, Trump administration blocked $2-billion military aid to Pakistan. It further plans to freeze more economic aid to the country. 

However, the US admitted that despite freezing aid, Pakistan continues to harbour terrorism on home soil.

"Both leaders expressed concern about the political crisis in the Maldives and the importance of respect for democratic institutions and rule of law," the White House.

A political chaos brewed in the Indian Ocean nation last Thursday, after the country's top court ordered the release of nine imprisoned Opposition politicians, including former democratically elected president Mohammed Nasheed. On Monday, President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency for 15-days, further deepening the political crisis. Maldives' Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested hours after Yameen declared a state of emergency.

The two leaders also discussed the plight of Myanmar's Rohingya refugees. As of now there are some 680,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh putting enormous pressure on the country's economy. Recently Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed on a roadmap of return of these refugees to their homes in Myanmar. However, the US believes that this is not the right time for the return of Rohingya refugees.

The phone call also included a discussion on Kim Jong-un-led North Korea and the nuclear threat posed by the East Asian nation.

"Finally, the leaders agreed to strengthen security and economic cooperation as they look forward to the '2+2' ministerial dialogue between their defence and diplomatic officials in April," the White House said.

The '2+2 dialogue' was announced after the White House meeting between PM Modi and Trump in June 2017.

The dialogue would involve External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman from India along with their American counterparts Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.  

With agency inputs

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