Trump, Modi discuss Afghanistan, Myanmar, Maldives, North Korea

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke by phone on Thursday, discussing topics including the political crisis in the Maldives, the war in Afghanistan and the plight of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, the White House said.

The Trump administration has launched an effort to deepen military and economic ties with India as a way to balance China’s assertive posture across Asia. The Maldives, best known for luxury tourist resorts, has become another arena of contest for India and China after it signed up to Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative to build trade and transport links across Asia and beyond.

The embattled president of the Indian Ocean nation has sent envoys to friendly nations such as China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to brief them on a political crisis that spurred the imposition of a state of emergency. Trump and Modi “expressed concern about the political crisis in the Maldives and the importance of respect for democratic institutions and rule of law,” the White House said in a statement. They repeated their commitment to Afghanistan’s security, the statement added.

 Published in Daily Times, February  10th 2018.