A day after Donald Trump shared the stage with Narendra Modi at the Howdy Modi event in Houston, the US President said Monday that he will play the role of an arbitrator on Kashmir only if asked to do so by both India and Pakistan.
“I am always ready to help. But it depends on both these gentlemen. I am ready, willing and able. If both want it, then I will do it,” said Trump while speaking to reporters along with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan before their bilateral meeting.
“I have a very good relationship with PM Modi and I have a very good relationship with PM Khan. I have never failed as an arbitrator… I have done it before. But I have to be asked by the other side,” said Trump, who is likely to hold a bilateral meeting with Modi Tuesday.
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However, the US President made it clear at least thrice, while responding to questions from Pakistani media, that he will help only if asked to by both sides. This has been his position in the last few weeks, after the initial statement in July about Modi asking him to mediate — a claim that was immediately denied by India.
Trump also referred to Modi’s speech at the Houston event, where the Prime Minister had indirectly referred to Pakistan while calling for a “decisive battle against terrorism”.
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“I heard a very aggressive statement yesterday from India. I was there. I didn’t know that I was going to hear that statement, I have to say, from India, from the Prime Minister. It was very well-received in the room, and it was a large room with 50,000 people… I hope things work out,” Trump said.
At the Houston event, Modi had said that India’s actions within its boundaries are “causing discomfort to some people who are unable to manage their own country”.
He had also said that “these people” support and nurture terrorism — and drew a parallel between 26/11 in Mumbai and 9/11 in the US, while indicating that the conspirators were in Pakistan.
Asked about the human rights situation in Kashmir, the US President said: “I want everyone to be treated well. I want it to be humane.” Asked about Pakistan being a hub of terrorism, Trump pointed to Iran and criticised Tehran instead.
On the progress made by Pakistan on acting against terrorists, Trump said: “I heard they are making great progress. You have a great leader. And that’s how it should be, otherwise, there’s just chaos and poverty.”
Khan, who was quiet most of time, said the US has a responsibility as the most powerful country in the world. He said he would ask Trump to tell Modi to “lift the siege” in Kashmir. “The US wanted to help if both countries asked. But India is refusing. This is beginning of a crisis… and it can get bigger,” Khan said.
Earlier Monday, before his meeting with Trump, Khan said during an interaction at the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank in New York, that he was against war. “I am and will always be a pacifist. I am anti-war. I don’t believe wars solve problems. I will be trying my best,” he said.
Khan is scheduled to speak at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 27 — after Modi.