File photo of Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh once again rebutted US President Donald Trump's Kashmir mediation claim. While he did admit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump spoke in June, he however, categorically stated that it had nothing to do Kashmir. “As S Jaishankar ji said Kashmir issue was not discussed in President Trump and PM Modi meeting. There is no question of mediation in Kashmir issue as it will be against the Shimla agreement,” Singh said in the Lok Sabha. The Congress-led by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury staged a walkout as the Opposition insisted on PM Modi’s statement in the House.
A day earlier on Tuesday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar categorically denied Trump’s claim in the Rajya Sabha. “I would like to categorically assure the House that no such request has been made by PM Modi.” Jaishankar said. He also added that, “It has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross-border terrorism.” He also stressed on the fact that “the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally.”
Following the protest by India, the US State Department on Tuesday said Jammu and Kashmir is a “bilateral” issue between India and Pakistan, and the US “welcomes” the two countries “sitting down” for talks. It also said Pakistan taking “sustained and irreversible” steps against terrorism is key to a successful dialogue with India.
“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,” a State Department spokesperson told news agency PTI in response to a question if Trump’s remarks reflect a change in the country’s policy on Kashmir.
Donald Trump offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as he met Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House for the first time, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also asked him to help with the Kashmir issue. Trump said that he is ready to help, if the two countries ask.
"I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago…. And he actually said would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator? I said where? He said Kashmir. Because this has been going on for many-many years," Trump said in response to a question during his meeting with Prime Minister Khan in the Oval Office.
"If I can help, I would love to be a mediator," Trump added.