Jaishankar Denies PM’s Trump Endorsement, Rahul Calls it Cover Up

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Monday, 30 September, refuted the notion that Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the phrase Abki Baar Trump Sarkaar in the Houston rally to endorse Trump's candidature for his 2020 re-election campaign, PTI reported.

In response to this, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted alleging that Jaishankar was “covering up our PM’s incompetence”. He added that the “fawning endorsement caused serious problems with the Democrats for India.”

Jaishankar, who is on a 3-day visit to the US, stressed that India has a non-partisan stand on domestic American politics and that the PM was merely referring to the phrase’s usage by Trump to endear himself to the Indian American community.

“I think, please, look very carefully at what the prime minister said. My recollection of what the prime minister said was that candidate Trump had used this (Ab Ki Baar Trump Sarkaar). So PM is talking about the past,” he said.

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Defending India’s Right to Buy Russian Arms

Jaishankar also defended India’s right to buy a missile defense system from Russia despite the threat of sanctions from the United States.

During his visit, he said India was discussing the US concerns but declined to forecast the ultimate decision on the fate of the S-400 purchase from Russia, reported AFP.

"We have always maintained that what we buy -- the sourcing of military equipment -- is very much a sovereign right," he told reporters ahead of a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"“That freedom of choice is ours and we think it’s in everybody’s interest to recognize that.”" - S Jaishankar, minister of external affairs

India agreed to buy five S-400 systems for USD 5.2 billion last year, and Russia has said that delivery is on track.

The US imposes sanctions against countries over "major" arms purchases from Russia due to Moscow's military involvement in Ukraine and Syria and alleged meddling in US elections.

The United States has threatened sanctions to force all countries to stop buying oil from Iran as it seeks to curb the clerical regime's influence in the Middle East.

In May, the Trump administration ended waivers for countries including India, formerly a leading customer for Iranian oil.

"We view Iran from the east, and from the east Iran has been a very stable, status quo power," Jaishankar said.

“We’ve been repeatedly assured that the affordable and predictable access to energy will not change,” he said, declining to comment further on discussions on Iran.

India has been teaming up to expand Iran's Chabahar port, a way to ensure a supply route to Afghanistan that bypasses Pakistan, New Delhi's rival and historic ally of the Taliban.

(With inputs from PTI and AFP)

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