Expressing dissatisfaction over New Delhi's decades-old role in the Afghanistan peace process, US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he wants the regional countries, including India, Russia and Pakistan to fight the Taliban in the war-torn country.
In his first Cabinet meeting of the year, the US President also referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funding a library in Afghanistan, wondering who would use it in that country.
"Why is not Russia there (in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban)? Why isn't India there? Why isn't Pakistan there? Why are we (US) there? We are 6,000 miles away. But I don't mind. We want to help our people. We want to help other nations," Trump told reporters in response to a question during the Cabinet meeting.
The US President cited India's efforts towards peace and development in Afghanistan but alleged that the countries were not doing enough in the war-ravaged country and that they were taking advantage of the United States.
Asserting that the Afghan war costs billions of dollars to the US, Trump said, "I want people to treat us fairly". He noted that heads of countries have told him that they are involved in the peace process by "just sending some 100 or 200 soldiers".
The US President referred to his friendly terms with Prime Minister Modi, but appeared critical of a library funded by India in Afghanistan.
"I could give you an example where I get along very well with India and Prime Minister Modi. But he is constantly telling me, he built a library in Afghanistan. Library! That's like five hours of what we spend (in Afghanistan)," Trump told his cabinet colleagues.
"And he (Modi) tells me. He is very smart. We are supposed to say, oh thank you for the library. Don't know who's using it (the library) in Afghanistan. But it's one of those things. I don't like being taken advantage of," he said.
Trump drew a comparison between the expenses being borne by the US and other countries in the Afghan peace efforts.
"What other countries have done for the last long period of time is given us some soldiers and then talk about it like it's the end of the world. And we are subsidizing their military is by billions and billions and billions of dollars, many, many, many times, what those soldiers cost that country," the US President said.
Responding to a question, he said he wants India to be involved in Afghanistan.
Asked if India's role in Afghanistan was going to be security related, Trump said: "We are going to be doing something that is right. We are talking to the Taliban. We are talking to a lot of different people."
"But here's the thing, because you mentioned India. India is there. Russia is there. Russia used to be Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia. So you tend to look at other countries. Pakistan is there. They should be fighting. But Russia should be fighting," he said.
"The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was that terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is it was a tough fight and literally they (Russia) went bankrupt," Trump said.
Funny part of @realDonaldTrump's screed is that a library is never listed among India's big aid projects #Afghanistan. https://t.co/OAaQqgHxGh— Devirupa Mitra (@DevirupaM) January 2, 2019
Also, total Indian bilateral aid is abt $2.2 bn. Dont think that's what US spends in '5 hrs' in Afg. pic.twitter.com/D45I1KvkzJ