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.
India has been maintaining that the Kashmir issue was a bilateral one and no third party has any role. Khan welcomed Trump's remarks and said if the US agrees, prayers of more than a billion people will be with him. He was accompanied by Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi among others.
India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by Pakistan-based terrorists, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.
"I think they (Indians) would like to see it resolved. I think you (Khan) would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be a mediator. It should be....we have two incredible countries that are very, very smart with very smart leadership, (and they) can't solve a problem like that. But if you would want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that," Trump said.
"We have a very good relationship with India. I know that your relationship (with India) is strained a little bit, maybe a lot. But we will be talking about India? (it's) a big part of our conversation today and I think maybe we can help intercede and do whatever we have to do. It's something that can be brought back together. We will be talking about India and Afghanistan both," Trump told Khan.