US President Trump says Indian PM Narendra Modi was "constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan", suggesting it was of no use, and that Russia, India and Pakistan should take up fight against Taliban.

Trump (L) brought up Modi's (R) aid to Afghanistan during a rambling press appearance at a cabinet meeting as he defended his push for the United States to invest less overseas.
Trump (L) brought up Modi's (R) aid to Afghanistan during a rambling press appearance at a cabinet meeting as he defended his push for the United States to invest less overseas. (Reuters Archive)

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday mocked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funding a library in Afghanistan, suggesting it was of no use.

Trump brought up India's aid during a rambling press appearance at a cabinet meeting as he defended his push for the United States to invest less overseas.

While stating that he got along with Modi, Trump said the Indian leader was "constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan."

"You know what that is? That's like five hours of what we spend," Trump said.

"And we're supposed to say, 'Oh, thank you for the library.' I don't know who's using it in Afghanistan," Trump said.

Indian aid in Afghanistan

It was unclear to which project Trump was referring, but India has committed $3 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since US-led forces toppled the Taliban after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Projects have included the reconstruction of an elite high school in Kabul and scholarships to India for 1,000 Afghan students each year.

Inaugurating the Afghan parliament building in 2015 after reconstruction financed by India, Modi promised to promote programmes "empowering Afghan youth with modern education and professional skills."

But India's role has alarmed its arch-rival Pakistan which often accuses India of using Afghanistan's soil to try to "destabilise" Pakistan.

Trump last month moved to pull all 2,000 US troops out of Syria and cut by half the 14,000-strong force in Afghanistan, calling for less spending overseas.

Trump also called on Russia, India and Pakistan to take up the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

Alluding in Wednesday's remarks to the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Trump said: "Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan."

Trump appeared to justify the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan, likely confusing the conflict with that in Chechnya.

"The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there," Trump told reporters at the White House. 

"The problem is it was a tough fight, and literally they went bankrupt. They went into being called Russia again as opposed to being called the Soviet Union."

Moscow's invasion has been cited as one of the contributing factors to the Soviet Union's collapse.

The Soviets invaded the Central Asian country in 1979 in order to install a friendly government there.

The US and its allies backed anti-Soviet forces known as the Mujahideen in their war against the Soviet Army, arming and funding the group during the Soviet invasion.

The Soviet Union fully withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, and the pro-Soviet government it had installed there collapsed in 1992 following a civil war with the Mujahideen.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies