India, Pak can talk and settle rows, says Modi

India, Pak can talk and settle rows, says Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France. (Reuters Photo)

India and Pakistan can hold talks and resolve outstanding bilateral issues without intervention by any third party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said as US President Donald Trump stressed on dialogue between the two South Asian nations to de-escalate tension.

“India and Pakistan were together before 1947 and all issues between them are bilateral in nature. We do not want to bother any third country. We can hold talks and resolve the issues bilaterally,” Modi said, as he and Trump were talking to journalists after holding a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of G7 summit. The prime minister made the remark while responding to a question on New Delhi’s stand on the US president’s recent offer to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute over Kashmir.

Tension between India and Pakistan escalated again over the past three weeks after Imran Khan’s government in Islamabad launched a war of words against New Delhi, protesting its decision to strip Jammu and Kashmir of special status and reorganise the state into two Union Territories.

A White House readout on Trump-Modi meeting on Monday quoted the US president as reaffirming “the need for dialogue between India and Pakistan to reduce tensions”.

The formal bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan remained stalled since January 2013.

“We spoke last night about Kashmir. The prime minister really feels he has it (situation) under control. They (India) speak with Pakistan and I am sure that they (India and Pakistan) will be able to do something that will be very good,” Trump said.

He was apparently referring to his informal chat with Modi during the dinner hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday for the leaders attending G7 summit.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale later told journalists that Modi and Trump had not discussed the issue of Kashmir during the meeting on Monday.

Trump had repeatedly offered to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute over Kashmir, irking New Delhi, which has been maintaining that the 1972 Simla Agreement between the two nations and the 1999 Lahore Declaration had left no scope for any third party to play any role in settling outstanding bilateral issues between the two South Asian neighbours.

The US president, however, refrained from reiterating his offer to mediate between India and Pakistan.

“I have very good relationship with both the gentlemen (Modi and Khan) and I’m here. I think they can do it (resolve the issue) themselves,” Trump said when he was asked about his offer.