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World

Web Desk
February 22, 2020

Trump to raise religious freedom issue during India visit, says White House

World

Web Desk
Sat, Feb 22, 2020
Trump listens to Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit. PHOTO BY: AFP

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump will raise the issue of religious freedom with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his upcoming two-day visit to India, said the White House in a statement on Friday. 

A senior official of the White House told US media during a conference call ahead of Trump's first official visit to India. The visit comes at a time of heightened tensions between India and Pakistan spurred on by India's controversial citizenship law and its atrocities in occupied Kashmir. 

"President Trump will talk about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom both in his public remarks and then certainly in private. He will raise these issues, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is extremely important to this administration," revealed the official. 

Saying that the American administration was concerned with some of India's religious freedom issues, the official said  Trump would raise the matter in his meeting with PM Modi. He said that "the world is looking to India to continue to uphold its democratic traditions, respect for religious minorities". 

He said that Trump will also discuss the outstanding issue of occupied Kashmir with Modi. "I think what you'll hear from the President is very much encouraging a reduction in tensions between India and Pakistan, encouraging the two countries to engage in bilateral dialogue with each other to resolve their differences," he said. 

The White House said Trump will call on both sides to refrain from engaging with each other in a hostile manner at the Line of Control (LoC) and to not issue provocative statements against one another. 

India and the US are expected to sign a trade deal during Trump's visit. Ties between the two countries have been strained to a degree due to trade as the US seeks greater access to Indian poultry and dairy markets.

The American president is scheduled to inaugurate the largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad as well when he arrives in India.