New Delhi: Ahead of his visit to India that may take place sometime next month, United States President Donald Trump has reiterated his resolve to “help” in resolving the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan, adding that the US is watching the situation in Kashmir “very very closely”.
The US President made the remarks in the presence of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday. On his part, the Pakistani Prime Minister also “hoped” that “the US will play its part in resolving that (Kashmir issue) because no other country can”.
This is despite New Delhi having repeatedly told the US President that the Kashmir issue has to be discussed only bilaterally between India and Pakistan. Mr Trump’s latest comments are being seen by observers as a sign of American pressure on India to begin talks with Pakistan. It is also being seen as a sign of Pakistan trying to push for US mediation on the Kashmir issue in return for helping the US work out a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The comments also come in the wake of the visit of US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster to J&K as part of the 15-member foreign envoys’ delegation that visited the newly-created union territory earlier this month.
Mr Trump was quoted by news reports as saying, “We are talking about Kashmir and with relation to what’s going on with Pakistan and India. If we can help, we certainly will be helping. We have been watching it and following it very, very closely.”
Imran says India is a big issue
Asked if he would visit Pakistan around the time he visits India, Trump said, “We are visiting right now, so we won’t really have to. But I wanted to say hello for both from a relationship standpoint... we have had a great relationship.”
On his part, Imran Khan was quoted as saying, “There are issues that we want to talk about, like Afghanistan. Fortunately, we are on the same page. India, of course, it is a big issue. We always hope that the US will play its part in resolving that because no other country can.”
In the wake of repeated offers of mediation between India and Pakistan by the US President last year, Prime Minister Modi clearly told the US President during their bilateral meeting in New York last September that India was “not shying away from talks with Pakistan”. Modi told Trump that India had “expected certain steps to be taken” against terrorism by Pakistan and that it was Pakistan that had not taken those steps.
Ahead of his bilateral meeting with Modi then, Trump had hoped that Modi and Imran Khan would “get together” and “work out something on Kashmir”, adding that “we all want to see that”.
Asked about the issue of terrorism, President Trump said last September, “We had a very good meeting with (Pakistan) PM Khan. We discussed a lot and I think he’d like to see something happen that will be very fruitful, very peaceful. And I think that will happen ultimately. I really believe that that these two great gentlemen (PM Modi and Pakistan PM Imran Khan) will get together and work out something. It would be great if they could work out something on Kashmir. We all want to see that, I’m sure, and I really believe that PM Modi and PM Khan, that they get along, that they will get along when they get to know each other and I think a lot of good things will come from that meeting.”
In the presence of the visiting Pakistan Prime Minister in the US last year, President Trump had said, “It (the mediation offer) would always stand. If I can help, I would certainly do that. And it will be dependent on both of these gentlemen. One without the other doesn’t work, if you’re going to do mediation.”...