NEW YORK – Donald Trump will support “greater friendship” between India and Pakistan, a prominent Indian-American industrialist said Dec. 16 as he met the President-elect and discussed issues ranging from growing India-US trade to relations with China and Pakistan.
Shalabh Kumar, founder and president of the Republican Hindu Coalition, met Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Trump’s daughter Ivanka and sons Don and Eric and other senior officials from the incoming Trump administration at the Trump Towers here a day earlier.
“It was a great meeting,” Kumar told PTI after the nearly 25 minute meeting with Trump at his luxurious headquarters in Manhattan.
Kumar, who played a leading role in mobilizing Hindus to support Trump and has been appointed to the Transition Finance and Inauguration committee, said the Trump administration is “looking forward to having a great relationship with India”.
Kumar said during the meeting, they discussed about mechanisms for increasing trade between US and India.
“We also talked about policies with respect to China and with respect to Pakistan and how India views them,” Kumar said.
Kumar added that Trump is “very well aware” that terrorism is a big concern for India and “he is also confident in a way that he could persuade Pakistan to do the right things and actually create a friendship between India and Pakistan.
“His attitude is always that you can do it, you put your mind to it and do it in a business-like manner. So you can do that.”
Kumar further added that Trump will be “very straight” with Pakistan and if Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif focusses on development and education in his country, then even the RHC and the Trump administration is with Pakistan and will support it.
Kumar said in the meeting they discussed that Pakistan needs to control terrorism and “the fact that if there was an opportunity to have greater friendship between India and Pakistan, he (Trump) will be for it.
“If anything he (Trump) can do to foster friendship, he is a businessman and wherever through business he could help create peace and prosperity, he is all for that,” Kumar said.
The Indian-American industrialist said both sides also discussed plans for creating a million to two million new jobs in the US by increasing the trade between US and India.
He noted that there is potential to increase bilateral trade from the 130 billion dollars a year currently to 300 billion dollars a year.
Kumar said the issue of demonetization also came up during the meeting that was also attended by Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s pick for treasury secretary.
“We also had Treasury Secretary-elect present throughout and he offered his views that they love the fact that (demonetization) could take out corruption from India and India’s economy could grow much higher at more than 10 per cent and double digit rates,” Kumar said.
On China, he said they talked about how “Pakistan is dependent on China and Chinese money gets in there and that supports Pakistan.”
On the readout issued by Pakistan about Sharif’s conversation with Trump, in which Islamabad said the US leader has talked in flattering terms about it, Kumar said it was “against protocol” for Pakistan to release what an American leader has said.
“The Trump administration has not acknowledged that that is what he said (during his conversation with Sharif). (The readout) could be totally exaggerated,” he said adding that there was displeasure over Pakistan revealing the contents of the conversation.
On a possible meeting between Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kumar said no time frame is set yet for such a meeting but added that he is confident that the two will share a “strong friendship” and “will make great partners.”
He said issues of immigration and the H-1B visa did not come up during the meeting.
When asked by reporters if he is interested in joining the Trump administration as an ambassador or in any other position, Kumar said “we will see about that.”
He said his goal and mission was to help elect a businessman as president of the country and not a traditional politician “because that is what is needed in the country today.
The focus is to “grow the US economy, grow the trade between US and India. In that respect anything that I can do, if I’m asked by Trump to be of any aid to him in any way I will look at it.”
“Our goal is also to strengthen the RHC, grow the US economy. In that respect whatever I can do I will be more than happy to do it. I’m not saying I’m opposed to it (any position) or I want to. As far as ambassadorship is concerned, it’s a little too early.”
Kumar said Trump and his team were “most appreciative” of the work the RHC has done in mobilizing the Hindu-Americans in his favor.
Trump and his officials “thanked for the support the Hindu Americans have provided for them.”
Trump will also express gratitude to the Hindu American community at one of his “thank you rallies” in Orlando today, Kumar said.
He expressed optimism that trade will “dramatically improve” between India and US under the Trump administration and there will be increased cooperation in areas of defense, energy and liquid natural gas.
“US is not allowed to sell LNG to India but under a Trump administration that will be possible,” he said.
Kumar added that Mnuchin arranged for the meeting. Mnuchin had also played a key role in organizing the ‘Aab Ki baar Trump Sarkar’ ad campaign close to the election
Kumar had in October organized a rally in New Jersey attended by Trump, who had said at the event that he is a “big fan of Hindus” and of India.