A day after speaking to both prime ministers of India and Pakistan, the US president Donald Trump on Tuesday once again offered to mediate in the “complicated" Kashmir situation between the two South Asian neighbours.
“It’s going on for a long period of time. But I get along really well with both of them. As you know, prime minister (Imran) Khan was here just recently. I am going to be with prime minister (Narendra) Modi over the weekend in France. I think we are helping in the situation. But there is tremendous problem between those two countries and I will do the best I can to mediate or do something. It’s a complicated situation. A lot has to do with religion," Trump said while briefing reporters.
On 22 July, Trump sprang a surprise when he said that he would like to mediate between India and Pakistan, and that his offer was based on a request from Prime Minister Modi. Trump’s comments came in the presence of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Khan who was on a visit to the US. Trump’s offer stunned India given Washington’s decades-old policy has been to encourage India and Pakistan to resolve differences bilaterally. New Delhi insisted that Modi had made no such request and that all issues including the Kashmir dispute would be sorted out bilaterally. A few days later, Trump toned down his initial offer of talks stating instead that he would “certainly intervene" between India and Pakistan on Kashmir if both countries wanted him to. Trump added that it was up to India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue but he stood ready to assist if the two South Asian neighbours wanted his help. This came after New Delhi lodged a protest with Washington.
In an interview with Fox News last week, India’s ambassador to Washington Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that Trump’s offer of mediation was dependent on both India and Pakistan accepting it and India had rejected the offer saying that the matter would be settled bilaterally. In a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 2 August in Bangkok, on the sidelines of a South-East Asian foreign ministers’ meet, India’s foreign minister S. Jaishankar said any discussion on Kashmir would take place only between India and Pakistan.
Trump has over the last one week occupied centre stage in the latest flare up in India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir seeking to pacify the nuclear-armed neighbours. This is the second time in less than a week that Trump has spoken to Khan. Following his chat with both the South Asian neighbours on Monday, Trump in a tweet put both the countries on the same pedestal: “Spoke to my two good friends, Prime Minister Modi of India, and Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, regarding Trade, Strategic Partnerships and, most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work towards reducing tensions in Kashmir. A tough situation, but good conversations!"