August 2019 News

Donald Trump Does It Again, Says Can 'mediate' On Kashmir

21 August 2019
Live Mint
Asit Ranjan Mishra

New Delhi: US President Donald Trump has once again offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the 'complicated' Kashmir issue, a day after speaking to the prime ministers of both the countries. This despite India garnering support from several nations including Russia and France that the Kashmir issue needs to be resolved through bilateral dialogue. 'It's (Kashmir issue) going on for a long period of time. But I get along really well with both of them. As you know, prime minister (Imran) Khan was here just recently. I am going to be with prime minister (Narendra) Modi over the weekend in France. I think we are helping in the situation. But there is tremendous problem between those two countries and I will do the best I can to mediate or do something. It's a complicated situation. A lot has to do with religion,' Trump said while briefing reporters on Tuesday. Trump is expected to meet Modi on the sidelines of the Group of Seven meeting in the coastal town of Biarritz in France later this week. Though India is not part of the grouping, Modi will attend the summit at the invitation of French president Emmanuel Macron. Trump has over the last one week occupied centre stage in the latest flare up in India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir seeking to pacify the nuclear-armed neighbours. This is the second time in less than a week that Trump has spoken to Khan. Following his chat with both the South Asian neighbours on Monday, Trump in a tweet put both the countries on the same pedestal: '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!' On 22 July, Trump sprung a surprise when he said he would like to mediate between India and Pakistan, and that his offer was based on a request from prime minister Modi. Trump's comments came in the presence of Pakistan's prime minister Khan who was on a visit to Washington. Trump's offer stunned India given Washington's decades-old policy has been to encourage India and Pakistan to resolve differences bilaterally. New Delhi insisted Modi had made no such request and that all issues, including the Kashmir dispute, would be sorted out bilaterally. A few days later, Trump toned down his initial offer of talks stating he would 'certainly intervene' between India and Pakistan on Kashmir if both countries wanted him to. Trump said it was up to India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue but he stood ready to assist if the two Asian neighbours wanted his help. This came after New Delhi lodged a protest with Washington. Meanwhile, UK on Tuesday supported India's stand that the Kashmir issue needs to be resolved through bilateral dialogue after prime minister Modi spoke to his UK counterpart Boris Johnson. 'The Prime Minister (of UK) made it clear that the UK views the issue of Kashmir is one for India and Pakistan to resolve bilaterally. He underlined the importance of resolving issues through dialogue,' a Downing Street spokesperson said. Pakistan has been seeking intervention of the United Nations and major countries in an effort to internationalise the Kashmir issue. However, after a telephonic conversation between French foreign minister Jean Yves Le Drian and his Pakistan counterpart S.M. Qureshi, the French side in a statement both India and Pakistan should resolve the dispute through bilateral talks. 'It is up to the two countries, under the framework of their bilateral political dialogue, to resolve this dispute so as to establish lasting peace. France makes a call to the parties for restraint, de-escalation and easing the situation. It is essential to abstain from any measure likely to aggravate tensions,' it said. Bangladesh's external affairs ministry in a statement on Wednesday supported India's stand that abrogation of Article 370 by the government is an 'internal issue' of the country, following a visit by India's external affairs minister S. Jaishankar to Dhaka. In an interview with Fox News last week, India's ambassador to Washington Harsh Vardhan Shringla said Trump's offer to mediate was dependent on both India and Pakistan accepting it and India had rejected it saying that the matter would be settled bilaterally. In a meeting with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on 2 August in Bangkok, on the sidelines of a South-East Asian foreign ministers' meet, Jaishankar said any discussion on Kashmir would take place only between India and Pakistan.