NEWS
03/01/2019 5:51 PM IST

Donald Trump's Afghanistan Library Snub: A Look At US President's Ever-Changing Opinion On Modi

Trump referred to his friendly terms with Modi, but appeared critical of a "library" funded by India in Afghanistan.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
A file photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump.

US President Donald Trump is known to contradict himself, mock world leaders and sometimes even imitate them

Recently, despite referring to his friendly terms with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he took a dig at India for funding a “library” in Afghanistan and said that it is of no use in the war-torn country.

In his first cabinet meeting of the year on Wednesday, Trump asked India, Russia, Pakistan and other neighbouring countries to take responsibility for Afghanistan’s security as he defended his push for the US to invest less overseas.

Trump referred to PM Modi as an example of how world leaders were talking about their contributions that were nowhere near the “billions of dollars” the US was spending.

 The US President said PM Modi was “constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan.”

“You know what that is? That’s like five hours of what we spend,” he was quoted as saying by AFP.

“And we’re supposed to say, ‘Oh, thank you for the library.’ I don’t know who’s using it in Afghanistan,” Trump was further quoted as saying in the report.

This is not the first time when Trump has mocked either Modi or India. 

Modi ‘beautiful man’, but US getting nothing: Trump 

While recalling his conversation with Modi in 2018 on the high import tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Trump said India is not doing the US any “favour” by slashing customs duty by 50%.

“Now, the prime minister, who I think is a fantastic man, called me the other day and said we are lowering it to 50%. I said okay, but so far we’re getting nothing. So we get nothing. He gets 50 (percent), and they think we’re doing — like they’re doing us a favour. That’s not a favour,” he said.

“I wasn’t sure — he said it so beautifully. He’s a beautiful man. And he said, I just want to inform you that we have reduced it to 75, but we have further reduced it to 50,” Trump said, mocking Modi.

“And I said, huh. What do I say? Am I supposed to be thrilled? And that’s not good for you people, especially as governors. It’s just not right. And we have many deals like that,” he said.

The Washington Post had reported some senior administration officials as saying in January 2018 that Trump “has been known to affect an Indian accent” and imitate Modi.

“Senior administration officials said that the president has been known to affect an Indian accent and imitate Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in an Oval Office meeting last year told him, ‘Never has a country given so much away for so little in return’ as the United States in Afghanistan,” the report said.

It’s difficult to figure out how Trump views Modi, because the US President has termed him a “true friend” and yet, continues to take a dig at him. 

Trump’s ‘true’ friendship with Modi?

Ahead of Modi’s visit to the US in 2017, Trump had called the PM a “true friend”. 

Later, in a book by renowned journalist Bob Woodward, Trump described Modi as his friend who told him that the US has got nothing out of Afghanistan, according to The Indian Express.

Prime Minister Modi of India is a friend of mine, Trump was quoted as saying by Woodward. “I like him very much.”

Even during the Diwali celebrations at the White House in 2018, the US President had said he has great respect for PM Modi and would be talking to him very soon.

(With PTI inputs)