NEW DELHI: American president Donald Trump’s assertion that India had sought a trade deal with the US owing to his tough stand on the issue has left Indian mandarins bemused.
Addressing a rally in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Friday, ahead of the mid-term elections, Trump declared that countries had started to respect the US. “India called us the other day. They said they want to do a trade deal. They wouldn’t talk about that with previous administrations. They were very happy at the way it was. And my trade representative who was very tough and very smart... he said, why are you calling? They said, because of President Trump. I was going to wait a little while. But they want it soon,” he said.
The remarks came days after the first 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary James Mattis.
There was no official reaction from New Delhi, but a diplomat said he “wouldn’t read too much into President Trump’s remarks, which were aimed at a domestic audience. Of course, we are talking on trade. But we are doing so as equals, and it would be wildly incorrect to say we are begging for a deal.”