U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday offered to mediate the decades-long Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to.
“I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago and we talked about this subject 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,” Mr. Trump said at the White House, where he was hosting Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator. If I can do anything to help, let me know,” he added.
His statement signalled a shift in long-standing policy that the issue must be solved bilaterally.
“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,” Mr. 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,” Mr. Trump futher told Mr. Khan.
Mr. Khan welcomed Mr. Trump’s remarks and said if the U.S. agreed, prayers of more than a billion people will be with him.
Mr. Khan 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.
It is far from the first time that Mr. Trump has offered to intervene in a seemingly intractable international dispute. U.S. mediation, which has long been sought by Pakistan, is likely to be rejected outright by New Delhi.
On Friday, Mr. Trump said he remained at the ready to help South Korea and Japan solve their lingering dispute over World War II-era forced labor that has blighted their trade ties.
In 2017, he offered to mediate territorial disputes in the South China Sea between China, Vietnam and other Asia-Pacific countries — a proposal that did not move forward.
India maintains that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral one and no third party has any role.
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.
Early this year, tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.