Trump again vows to mediate between India, Pakistan

After phone calls with Indian and Pakistani PMs, US President says situation in Kashmir “tough” and he will do his best to mediate.

Speaking a day after phone calls with the premiers of both countries, Trump said he was happy to try and help calm the situation in Kashmir where tensions have spiked since India revoked autonomous rule in the part of the region it controls on August 5. (AFP Photo)

United States President Donald Trump has once again put New Delhi in a fix as he vowed to do his best to mediate between India and Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir. 

New Delhi had last month strongly refuted a claim by US President that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had requested him to mediate between India and Pakistan to help resolve the issue of Kashmir. 

“So, I think we are helping the situation but there is tremendous problems between those two countries, as you know, and I will do the best I can to mediate or do something,” Trump told media-persons in Washington D.C. while talking about the role of the US in diffusing tension between India and Pakistan in the wake of New Delhi's recent decisions on Jammu and Kashmir. 

The US President made the comment a day after speaking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan over the phone. He had last month irked New Delhi by claiming after a meeting with Khan at White House that Modi had requested him to mediate between India and Pakistan to settle the row over Kashmir. New Delhi had strongly refuted the US President's claim, reiterating its position that India's Simla Agreement of 1972 and Lahore Declaration of 1999 with Pakistan had left no scope for any third country to play any role in resolving the dispute over J&K.

But just before his proposed meeting with Modi on the sideline of the G-7 summit in France; Trump, once again promised to do his best to mediate between India and Pakistan. 

“I spoke to PM Khan, I spoke with yesterday also PM Modi, they’re both friends of mine, they’re great people. They’re great people and they love their countries and they are in a tough situation, Kashmir is a very tough situation,” Trump told journalists in White House before holding a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who was on a visit to Washington D.C. on Tuesday. 

Trump and Modi had a 33-minute-long conversation over the phone on Monday. Modi told the US President that Pakistan Prime Minister's rhetoric inciting violence against India was not conducive to peace in the region. Trump later spoke to Khan and stressed on the need to “moderate rhetoric” against India. 

Khan had on Sunday accused Modi of running a “Hindu Supremacist” Government that posed not only a threat to Pakistan, but also to minorities in India.

“They’ve been having these talks for hundreds of years, even under different names. But this is Kashmir and Kashmir is a very complicated place. You have the Hindus and the Muslims and I wouldn’t say they get along so great and that’s what you have right now,” US President said in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.   His comments were posted on the website of the White House. “You have millions of people that want to be ruled by others and maybe on both sides and you have two counties that haven’t gotten along well for a long time and frankly it’s a very explosive situation.”

Trump went on to say that he had “great relationships” with both Modi and Khan, although the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan were “not exactly friends at this moment”. “Complicated situation.  A lot has to do with religion. Religion is a complicated subject,” the US President added. 

After Modi Government on August 5 announced its decisions to strip J&K of its special status and reorganize the state into two Union Territories, Trump Administration endorsed New Delhi's view that it was an “internal” affair of India. The US also last week joined the overwhelming majority of the permanent and non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to block attempts by Pakistan's “iron brother” China to internationalize the issue of J&K and bring it back on the Horse Shoe Table. The US also argued that the issue should be resolved through bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan.  

Yet Trump once again surprised New Delhi by vowing to do his best to mediate between the two South Asian neighbours. 

After Trump's first claim about Modi asking him to play the role of a mediator to help settle the issue of Kashmir  had evoked strong response from New Delhi, the US State Department had resorted to damage-control, albeit without explicitly contradicting the statement made by American President. 

“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,” Alice G Wells, the US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, had tweeted. 

New Delhi had also decided to move on to save India-US relations from being derailed. 

Harsh Shringla, New Delhi's envoy to Washington D.C., recently told Fox News that US President's offer to mediate on J&K was “dependent on both India and Pakistan accepting it”. But, he added, since New Delhi had not accepted the offer, it was “not on the table any more”. 

Trump's remarks on J&K in White House on Tuesday however indicated that the US would still make attempts to seek a role for itself in resolving the dispute between India and Pakistan. 

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