Rejecting any mediation by US President Donald Trump on Kashmir, India on Friday made it clear to America that any discussion on the issue, if at all warranted, will only be with Pakistan and only bilaterally.
The assertion by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar came hours after President Trump said he would “certainly intervene” on the Kashmir issue if New Delhi and Islamabad wanted him to.
Jaishankar who met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Bangkok on the sidelines of the 9th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers meeting conveyed India’s stand that any discussion on the Kashmir issue would be between India and Pakistan only.
President Trump’s stunning claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue triggered a massive political row in India.
The government asserted that no such request was made by Prime Minister Modi to the US president and all issues will have to be resolved with Islamabad bilaterally.
“Held wide ranging discussions with @SecPompeo on regional issues,” Jaishankar tweeted after his meeting with his American counterpart.
“Have conveyed to American counterpart @SecPompeo this morning in clear terms that any discussion on Kashmir, if at all warranted, will only be with Pakistan and only bilaterally,” he said in another tweet.
Meanwhile, President Trump on Thursday said he would “certainly intervene” between India and Pakistan on Kashmir if they wanted him to.
But he said it was up to India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue but he was ready to assist if the two South Asian neighbours wanted him to help in resolving the issue.
When asked how would he “want to resolve the Kashmir issue”, Trump said, “If I can, if they wanted me to, I would certainly intervene.”
“It’s really up to Prime Minister Modi (to accept the offer of mediation),” Trump told reporters responding to a question on India not accepting his offer of mediation on Kashmir.
“Have they accepted the offer or not?”, Trump sought a clarification when asked about India’s rejection of his mediation offer.
“I think they are fantastic people – Khan and Modi — I mean. I would imagine they could get along very well, but if they wanted somebody to intervene, to help them…. and I spoke with Pakistan about that and I spoke frankly in (sic) India about it,” Trump said.
He noted that the issue of Kashmir had been going on for a long time.
“That’s been going on, that battle, for a long time,” he said.
On July 22, during his joint media appearance with visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House, President Trump stunned India by saying that Prime Minister Modi sought his mediation/arbitration on the Kashmir issue.
Trump said the Indian Prime Minister asked for this during their bilateral meeting in Japan in June on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit.
India quickly denied it and said the Kashmir issue was never discussed between Modi and Trump.
In Parliament, Jaishankar had said that all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan can be discussed only bilaterally and Prime Minister Modi made no request to President Trump to mediate on the Kashmir issue with Pakistan.
“Any engagement with Pakistan will require an end to cross border terrorism,” the external affairs minister had said, adding that Simla and Lahore accords provide the basis for resolution of all issues bilaterally.
Pakistan Prime Minister Khan has said that he welcomed US mediation on the Kashmir issue.