MEA’s denial ‘weak’: Rahul Gandhi demands Modi’s response to Trump’s Kashmir claimhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/rahul-gandhi-demands-modis-response-to-trumps-kashmir-claim-says-meas-denial-weak-5843831/

MEA’s denial ‘weak’: Rahul Gandhi demands Modi’s response to Trump’s Kashmir claim

During a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House Monday, Trump said he had discussed the Kashmir issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of G-20 Summit and that he would “love to be a mediator.”

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi

Minutes after External Affair’s Minister S Jaishankar denied Donald Trump’s claim that Narendra Modi asked him to resolve the Kashmir issue in Parliament, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Tuesday demanded answers from the prime minister saying a “weak foreign ministry denial won’t do”.

Gandhi tweeted, “A weak Foreign Ministry denial won’t do. PM must tell the nation what transpired in the meeting between him & US President.” He also added that if Trump’s claims are found to be true, Modi has “betrayed India’s interests & 1972 Simla Agreement.”

During a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House Monday, US President Trump said he had discussed the Kashmir issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of G-20 Summit and that he would “love to be a mediator.”

Centre denies making any requests for mediation on Kashmir

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar “specifically and categorically” denied US President Donald Trump’s claim. “I would like to reiterate that all engagements with Pakistan will remain only bilateral. I would also like to reiterate that bilateral dialogue is only possible when Pakistan ends cross-border terrorism. The Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration lay the path for any talks on the said issue,” he added.

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Opposition protests rock Parliament

Opposition parties were, however, not satisfied by the statement of the External Affairs Minister and wanted the Prime Minister to come to the House and clarify. This led to a heated exchange between opposition benches and the Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, who as forced to adjourn the House twice.

Targetting the government, Congress leader Manish Tiwari said Trump’s statement is a “blow to the unity of India”. “We would like to demand that the PM comes to the House and clarifies if such a conversation took place between the two. If it didn’t, he should say that the US President is giving false statements and is lying about Kashmir,” he said in Lok Sabha.

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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. (AP/File)

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad later told reporters: “No matter which govt was in power at Centre in past, our foreign policy has been that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and no third party can intervene and President Trump knows it, I don’t think President Trump would tell Pakistan’s PM that India’s PM has asked the US to mediate.”

Read | Kashmir won’t be resolved bilaterally, says Imran Khan; welcomes Trump’s offer of mediation

What did the US department say on Trump’s claims?

Hours after Trump’s statement, the US State Department clarified saying that Kashmir was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and that the US “welcomes” the two countries “sitting down” for talks. It also said Pakistan taking “sustained and irreversible” steps against terrorism is key to a successful dialogue with India.

“While Kashmir is a bilateral issue for both parties to discuss, the Trump administration welcomes Pakistan and India sitting down and the United States stands ready to assist,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI in response to a question if Trump’s remarks reflect a change in the country’s policy on Kashmir.