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Did US President Donald Trump really ‘threaten’ India with ‘retaliation’ over hydroxychloroquine export? Read details

The reporter's question to Trump was whether he thinks there will be retaliation against his own decision to ban the export of medical goods from the USA.

On Tuesday, the ever over-enthusiastic media of the country had reported that US President Donald Trump had warned India that the US may ‘retaliate’ if it did not export anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

A barge of misinformation was peddled by the media over US President Donald Trump’s statements claiming that he had “threatened” India. As usual, the ‘liberal-secular’ media blew the issue out of proportion to stoke another controversy over Trump’s alleged statements by claiming that President’s Trump had, in fact, threatened India over its ban on the export of the drug indicating a diplomatic failure of the Modi government.

Except, that is not what happened at the White House on Monday. The remarks made by US President Donald Trump was actually a response to a specific question asked by a reporter regarding whether he would go for ‘retaliation’ against India if Modi government did not reconsider its decision of banning export of hydroxychloroquine.

Responding to a specific question asked by a reporter during a press conference, Donald Trump stated that he would be surprised if India does not lift the ban on the export of drug and added that he had even talked to Prime Minister Modi over the issue of the drug supply. Interestingly, Trump also reiterated several times in his address that how India was an important partner to the US and hoped that India would supply necessary drugs to the US.

At the end of his statements, Donald Trump in a generalising statement said that there would be some kind of retaliation if India did not lift the ban on the export of hydroxychloroquine. “Why wouldn’t there be?”, was Trump’s response, which indicated that it is more of a response to a non-serious question of a journalist rather than a threat or a ‘unilateral’ response to India.

Here is the transcript of the statements made by President Donald Trump in response to a reporter’s question over retaliation against India:

Reporter:  Thank you, sir. Are you worried about retaliation to your decision to ban the export of medical goods, like Indian Prime Minister Modi’s decision to not export hydroxychloroquine to the United States and other countries?

Trump: I don’t like that decision if that’s — I don’t — I didn’t hear that that was his decision.  I know that he stopped it for other countries. I spoke to him yesterday. We had a very good talk. And we’ll see whether or not that is. I would be surprised if he would, you know because India does very well with the United States. For many years, they’ve been taking advantage of the United States on trade. So I would be surprised if that were his decision. He’d have to tell me that.

Trump: I spoke to him Sunday morning. I called him. And I said, “We’d appreciate your allowing our supply to come out.”  If he doesn’t allow it to come out, that would be okay, but, of course, there may be retaliation.  Why wouldn’t there be?

The quoted statement, is Monday’s actual exchange between a reporter and Donald Trump. You can watch the exchange here:

Secondly, the crux of the report’s question was whether President Trump was worried about retaliation to a decision that he took to ban exports of medical supplies from the US. The reporter who asked the question likened the situation to the Narendra Modi government’s move last week to ban exports of hydroxychloroquine.

To this question, the US President did not even respond initially and instead spoke about his phone conversation with PM Narendra Modi.

However, when the statements are read independently without any context, the sentence does make it seem as though Donald Trump was threatening retaliation against India if it did not export of hydroxychloroquine. When read in the context of the question asked by the reporter, it is clear that Trump was actually responding to a question posed to him regarding possible retaliation against his own decision.

Perhaps, Donald Trump should have framed his response better rather than getting conned by the media yet again.

Ever since the Chinese pandemic coronavirus began to spread across the United States, US President Donald Trump has been advocating the use of the drug and had presented hydroxychloroquine as a “game-changer” even though his health advisers had voiced uncertainty about its efficacy against novel coronavirus.

Hydroxychloroquine, an old and inexpensive drug used to treat malaria, is seen as a viable therapeutic solution by President Trump to coronavirus that has so far killed more than 10,000 Americans and infected over 3.6 lakh within weeks. India is the biggest producer and exporter of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that is in much demand for the potential use in helping treat patients of the novel coronavirus. 

Perhaps, Donald Trump had hoped that India, which is one of the most important partners of the United States may relax its export norms to export hydroxychloroquine to the US.

Last week, Donald Trump had even sought help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the sale of Hydroxychloroquine tablets ordered by the US to treat the growing number of coronavirus patients in his country, hours after India banned the export of the anti-malarial drug.

After requests from several nations, India had finally announced that it will relax the blanket ban and will allow export of specific consignments on a case-to-case basis to certain nations.

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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