In remarks that angered New Delhi and were quickly denied, US President Donald Trump Monday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to play the role of a mediator on Kashmir, and “if I can help, I would love to be the mediator” between India and Pakistan.
Trump made the remarks in the presence of visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House ahead of their bilateral meeting. Within an hour, the Ministry of External Affairs contradicted the US President’s remarks saying “no such request has been made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.
“We have seen @POTUS’s remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President. It has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India & Pakistan bilaterally,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for the MEA, tweeted.
The statement by the US President is likely to create a diplomatic and political firestorm given that Parliament is in session. Prime Minister Modi is also likely to travel to the US in September.
At the White House, Imran Khan, responding to a question on Kashmir, said he will be asking Trump’s support to push for dialogue with India.
“He is… It is the most powerful country in the world, the United States. It can play the most important role in bringing peace in the subcontinent. There are over a billion and a quarter people in the subcontinent. They are held hostage to the issue of Kashmir. And I feel the most powerful state, headed by President Trump, can bring the two countries together. From my point, I can tell you — we have tried our best. We made all overtures to India to start dialogue, resolve our differences through dialogue. But, unfortunately, we haven’t made headway as yet. But, I am hoping that President Trump can push this process,” he said.
We have seen @POTUS‘s remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President. It has been India’s consistent position…1/2
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) July 22, 2019
Trump then said: “I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago. We talked about this subject, and he actually said would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator? I said: Where? He said: Kashmir. Because this has been going on for many many years. I was surprised at how long it has been going on.”
At this point, Khan said, “70 years”.
Trump continued: “I think they would like to see it resolved. I think you would like to see it resolved. And If I can help, I would love to be a mediator.”
“It’s impossible that two incredible countries that are very very smart, with very smart leadership can’t solve a problem like that. But if you want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do it,” he said.
Khan then said, “President, I can tell you that right now you will have prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate and resolve this issue.”
Trump responded, “It should be resolved. He asked me the same thing. So, I think there is something. So, may be we will speak to him, or I will speak to him and we will see if we can do something… because I have heard so much about Kashmir. Such a beautiful name. It’s supposed to be such a beautiful part of the world. But right now, there are just bombs all over the place. Everywhere you go, you have bombs and it’s a terrible situation and has been going on for many years. If I can do anything to help, let me know.”
This is the first time Trump has claimed that Modi asked him to mediate on Kashmir. The two leaders met in Osaka on the sidelines of the G-20 summit on June 27.
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