Days after mocking him for building a library in Afghanistan, US President Donald Trump on Monday dialled Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to increase India’s cooperation in the war-torn country. In an official statement released by the White House, Trump and Modi also discussed ways to reduce the US trade deficit in with India.
"The leaders agreed to strengthen the U.S.-India strategic partnership in 2019 and exchanged perspectives on how to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with India, expand security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and increase cooperation in Afghanistan," the White House said in a statement.
Last week, the US president had taken a dig at Modi for funding a library in the strife-torn nation, asking India and other neighbouring countries to take up the responsibility of security in Afghanistan.
"I could give you an example where I get along very well with India and Prime Minister Modi. But he is constantly telling me, he built a library in Afghanistan. Library! That's like five hours of what we spend (in Afghanistan)," Trump told his cabinet colleagues during a meeting.
The United States has over 14,000 troops in Afghanistan. Trump is now planning to withdraw more than 5,000 of US troops and with a reduced military presence, he wants India and Russia to take up the job. Although India has committed to provide USD 3 billion aid to Afghanistan for building infrastructure but has no plans to send its troops.
Also, Trump has been pushing India to reduce the trade deficit between the countries. Recently, in a provocative measure, the US has slapped tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium from India. In response, India had also threatened to retaliate and likely to take an action after the end of January.