US President Donald Trump Tuesday said he would discuss the Kashmir issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the sidelines of the G7 Summit this weekend in France. Calling it an “explosive situation”, Trump said he would “do the best (he) can to mediate” between India and Pakistan.
“I will be with Prime Minister Modi… I’ll be with him over the weekend in France. I think, we are helping (resolve the tense) situation (between India and Pakistan),” Trump was quoted as saying by news agency PTI. “I will do the best I can to mediate or do something. (I have) great relationship with both of them, but they (India and Pakistan) are not exactly friends at this moment,” Trump added.
Responding to a question on Kashmir, Trump called it a “complicated place” and added that the situation in the Valley has “a lot to do with religion”.
“It’s a complicated situation. A lot has to do with religion. Religion is a complicated subject,” Trump said, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office of the White House. “You have the Hindus. And you have the Muslims. I wouldn’t say they get along so great. That’s what you have right now.”
The development comes a day after Trump spoke separately to PM Modi and Pakistan PM Imran Khan in a bid to ease Indo-Pak tensions which have escalated since the abrogation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir on August 5.
In a tweet Tuesday, Trump said, “Spoke to my two good friends, Prime Minister Modi of India and Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, regarding Trade, Strategic Partnerships and, most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work towards reducing tensions in Kashmir. A tough situation, but good conversations!”
“Frankly, it’s a very explosive situation. I spoke to Prime Minister Khan yesterday also with Prime Minister Modi. They’re both friends of mine. They’re great people. They’re great people, and they love their country,” Trump said.
Sources told The Indian Express that it was Trump who “initiated” the phone call on Monday and they described the conversation as a “good exchange” between the two leaders.
India has maintained that it is an internal matter, in a telephonic conversation with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, United States Secretary of Defence Mark Esper appreciated India’s stance on the matter.
A statement released by the ministry said: “Singh raised the issue of cross-border terrorism affecting India and appreciated US support for India’s effort to maintain peace and stability in the region. He said that issues relating to Article 370 are an internal matter of India which are aimed at improving growth and economic development, democracy and prosperity for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Esper told his Indian counterpart that he hoped that any issue between India and Pakistan will be resolved bilaterally, the statement added.