New Delhi: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday once again offered to mediate the "explosive" situation in Jammu and Kashmir, a day after he spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan premier Imran Khan.
Amid mounting international concern over a flare-up in violence between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, Trump said he was happy to try and help calm the situation in Kashmir where tensions have spiked since India revoked autonomous rule on August 5.
The US President, who has previously spoken of his willingness to mediate, said he would raise the situation over the weekend with Modi. Both are expected in France for a summit of the Group of Seven industralized nations.
"As you know, PM Khan was here just recently and I am going to be with PM Modi over the weekend in France," Trump told reporters at the White House.
“Kashmir is a very complicated place. You have Hindus and you have the Muslims and I wouldn’t say they get along so great. I will do the best I can to mediate,” he added.
At least 4,000 people have reportedly been detained in Kashmir since early August when authorities imposed a communications blackout and restricted freedom of movement in the region.
A senior US official, who has just returned from a visit to the region, called on India Tuesday to quickly release detainees and restore basic liberties. "We continue to be very concerned by reports of detentions, and continued restrictions on the residents of the region," the State Department official told reporters.
"We urge respect for individual rights, compliance with legal procedures and an inclusive dialogue," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
India has bristled at any suggestion of foreign mediation and strenuously denied a claim by Trump last month that Modi had invited him to act a peacebroker.
On Monday, Trump spoke on the phone with his "two good friends" - PM Modi and Imran Khan - and urged them to work towards reducing tensions over Kashmir. He also advised Pakistan to "moderate its rhetoric with India" over Kashmir.
PM Modi had a 30-minute telephonic conversation with Trump in which he "stated that extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence by certain leaders in the region was not conducive to peace."
Last week, Pakistan's attempts to internationalise the Kashmir issue by raking up the Article 370 issue in the United Nations Security Council had fallen flat after most of the participating nations agreed that the ending the special status was a bilateral matter and the UN body refused to issue a media statement after closed consultations. Pakistan has now said it will move the International Court of Justice.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also told Modi in a phone call on Tuesday that the Kashmir dispute must be resolved between India and Pakistan alone.
Johnson "made clear that the UK views the issue of Kashmir as one for India and Pakistan to resolve bilaterally. He underlined the importance of resolving issues through dialogue," a spokeswoman for his Downing Street office said.
In justifying the scrapping of Kashmir's autonomy, Modi said last week that "fresh thinking" was needed after decades of bloodshed in Kashmir.
(With inputs from AFP)