STATE TIMES NEWSNew Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held a telephonic conversation with US President Donald Trump during which he made an indirect reference to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s extreme rhetoric against India, and said such incitement to anti-India violence was not conducive to peace. According to a release from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Modi had a 30-minute-long telephonic conversation with Trump during which they discussed bilateral and regional issues. The conversation was marked by the “warmth and cordiality” which characterises the relations between the two leaders, it said. In the context of the regional situation, Modi stated that extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence by certain leaders in the region was not conducive to peace, the release said. Modi also highlighted the importance of creating an environment free from terror and violence and eschewing cross-border terrorism without exception. “The Prime Minister reiterated India’s commitment to cooperate with anyone who followed this path, in fighting poverty, illiteracy and disease,” it added. “The President conveyed the importance of reducing tensions between India and Pakistan and maintaining peace in the region,” the White House said. The conversation between Modi and Trump took place two days after the US president asked Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to resolve the Kashmir issue with India bilaterally during a telephonic conversation. Earlier this month, India abrogated Article 370 in the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories, evoking strong reactions from Pakistan. President Trump and Prime Minister Modi “look forward to meeting again soon”, the White House said. Modi is scheduled to attend the G7 summit meeting in France later this month where the two leaders are likely to get an opportunity to interact. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will pay a two-day State visit to France from August 22 during which he will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron to strengthen strategic ties in key sectors such as defence, nuclear energy, maritime cooperation and counterterrorism. Ahead of the visit, officials here said progress on setting up the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is likely to be discussed during bilateral talks and India is committed to finalising the venture “as soon as possible”. From France, the prime minister will proceed for bilateral visits to the UAE and Bahrain, and will return to the French city of Biarritz on August 25 to attend the G7 Summit, where India has been invited as a partner country. Modi will arrive in France on Thursday evening and straightaway head for talks with Macron, who will also host a working dinner for the PM. The next day, Modi will meet French Prime Minister Edouard Charles Philippe, address an event of Indian community at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, and also inaugurate a memorial in Nid D’Aigle for Indian victims of two tragic air crashes of Air India flights in 1950 and 1966. The discussions are expected to broadly focus on reaffirming France and India as the key strategic and like-minded partners, strengthening of defence partnership, including future defence acquisitions, progress on setting up of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, convergent, strategic and political priorities in the Indo-Pacific and related operational needs, Secretary (Economic Relations) T S Tirumurti said. Strengthening bilateral engagement in key areas of strategic cooperation such as defence, nuclear energy, space, counterterrorism, maritime security, cyber security, International Solar Alliance, and joint development projects will also be deliberated upon, he said at a media briefing. The deliverables of the visit are expected to be in the sectors of skill development, space, information and technology and cyber. Modi will on Friday arrive in the UAE where he would receive the ‘Order of Zayed’, the highest civil decoration of the country. From the UAE, Modi will leave for Bahrain on August 24 on a two-day visit, which will be the first ever prime ministerial visit from India to the Gulf nation. MoUs on RuPay cards will be signed by India with both the UAE and Bahrain so that they can be used in these two countries, Tirumurti said. “Our relations with the Gulf countries are at an all time high and India enjoys excellent relations with the Islamic world,” he said in response to a question. During his visit to Bahrain, the prime minister will also launch the renovation of Shreenathji (Shree Krishna) temple in Manama. On August 25, he will head for the French city of Biarritz to attend the G7 Summit. The next day, Prime Minister Modi will participate in sessions on environment, climate, oceans and digital transformation, Tirumurti said. On the sidelines, the Prime Minister will have bilateral meetings with leaders of other G7 and partner countries. The main theme of French presidency of G7 is combating inequality. France has invited Australia, Chile, South Africa, India and from Africa –Rwanda, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Egypt — as Biarritz partners. Former Union minister Suresh Prabhu will be India’s sherpa at the G7 Summit. Asked if the progress on the Rafale deal and the controversies surrounding it will be discussed, a senior MEA official did not give a direct answer, saying defence cooperation would be “positively discussed” during the prime minister’s visit. India and France are strategic partners since 1998 and share a comprehensive, dynamic and multi-faceted relationship, the MEA said. “Our two countries have strong cooperation in the fields of defence, maritime security, space, cyber, counter-terrorism, and civil nuclear energy along with robust trade and investment relations,” it said. The bilateral visit to France and the invitation to G7 Summit are in keeping with the tradition of strong and close partnership and high level political contacts between India and France, the ministry said.
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