Modi extends New Year greetings to Trump over phone

Modi extends New Year greetings to Trump over phone

Readout from MEA does not mention Iran tensions

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken with U.S. President Donald Trump to wish him for the New Year, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced on Tuesday, in a statement that made no mention of the growing U.S.-Iran tensions and situation in West Asia.

“The Prime Minister stated that India-U.S. relations, which are built on trust, mutual respect and understanding, have grown from strength to strength. The Prime Minister highlighted the significant progress made in deepening the Strategic Partnership between the two countries in the previous year and expressed his desire to continue to work with President Trump for enhancing cooperation in all areas of mutual interest,” the MEA statement said, adding that Mr. Trump had “expressed satisfaction” at the India-U.S. relationship and spoke of “further deepening bilateral cooperation.”

According to a White House release, the two leaders “also reviewed regional security matters” but gave no details.

The call between the leaders follows a conversation between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar that took place a few days after the U.S. missile strike in Baghdad that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. In what appeared to be some divergence between New Delhi and Washington, Mr. Jaishankar tweeted that during the conversation, he had “highlighted India’s stakes and concerns” in the Gulf region, and the U.S. State Department readout claimed that Mr. Pompeo had discussed “Iran’s continued provocations and threats to the region”.

India had earlier expressed global “alarm” over the tensions following the U.S. action, and described Soleimani as a “senior Iranian leader”, whom Mr. Trump claimed was responsible for “several terrorist attacks, including in New Delhi”.

When asked about the divergences between the two statements, an MEA official pointed out that there had been no “joint statement” issued on the calls, which indicated that the Foreign Ministers may have simply “shared their perspectives on the region.”

India has repeatedly stressed traditional ties with Iran, and the importance of the Indian investment in Chabahar port project, which Mr. Jaishankar committed to expediting during a meeting with Iranian President Rouhani last month. After the killing of Soleimani, Mr. Jaishankar spoke to Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, noting the “serious turn of events” that had followed.

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