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Donald Trump Nudges India: You Make Billions With US, Help More In Afghanistan

India can play a big role in Afghanistan’s economic development, Donald Trump said (AFP)

Washington:  US President Donald Trump today said he will work to boost strategic partnership with India for achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan, and asked New Delhi to provide more economic assistance to the war-torn country since “India makes billions of dollars in trade with the US”.Mr Trump, in a televised address to the nation as Commander-in-Chief, laid out his South Asia policy saying a “critical part” of it was to further develop US’ strategic partnership with India, while criticising Pakistan for supporting terror groups although Islamabad gets billions in aid from the US.

India, the world’s largest democracy, is a key security and economic partner of the US, Mr Trump said. “We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the US, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development,” Mr Trump said.

“We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region,” said the US President.

He said after a “comprehensive review”, it was decided that the American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically.

In his speech, Mr Trump came down heavily on Pakistan for supporting terror groups. “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” he said.

“In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner. Our militaries have worked together against common enemies. The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism. We recognise those contributions and those sacrifices,” Mr Trump said.

“But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organisations that try every single day to kill our people,” he added.

Mr Trump said the US has been paying Pakistan billions of dollars but it continues to house the very terrorists that America is fighting. “But that will have to change. That will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harbouring of militants and terrorists who target US service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order, and to peace,” Mr Trump said.

In a statement following Mr Trump’s address, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed the President’s views on enhanced role for India in the new South Asia strategy. “India will be an important partner in the effort to ensure peace and stability in the region, and we welcome its role in supporting Afghanistan’s political and economic modernisation,” he said.