PM Didn't Ask Trump to Mediate on Kashmir, Says Jaishankar as Opposition Corners Govt on Claim
The External Minister said it has been the consistent position of India that all outstanding issues with Pakistan can be discussed only bilaterally.
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi made no request to US President Donald Trump to mediate on the Kashmir issue with Pakistan, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in Rajya Sabha Tuesday amid a massive controversy over the US leader's claim.
He said all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan can be discussed only bilaterally. "I would like to categorically state that no such request has been made by the Prime Minister to the US President," he said after the Congress and other opposition parties raised the issue in the House.
US President Donald Trump had on Monday claimed that Modi had asked him to play the role of a mediator on Kashmir.
Jaishankar said it has been the consistent position of India that all outstanding issues with Pakistan can be discussed only bilaterally. "Any engagement with Pakistan will require end to cross border terrorism," he said, adding Shimla and Lahore accords provide the basis for resolution of all issues bilaterally.
While the Rajya Sabha witnessed repeated adjournments over the issue, the opposition walked out of the Lok Sabha proceedings demanding a statement from Modi himself.
Deputy leader of Congress in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said Trump had stated that Prime Minister of India had at the recent G20 meeting in Osaka in Japan sought his mediation. India's position has been consistent and clear on Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and has always maintained that it will not accept third party mediation in purely bilateral issue.
Since Parliament is in session and considering that the comments were made by the President of the world's most powerful nation to the prime minister of another country, Prime Minister Modi should come to the House and clarify on the issue, he said.
CPI's D Raja wanted to know if there was any change in India's position on third-party mediation on Kashmir issue. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said Prime Minister Modi never made any such request to the US leader and reiterated that Kashmir is a bilateral issue. He said all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan can be discussed only bilaterally, thereby ruling out any third party mediation.
"I would like to categorically state that no such request has been made by the prime minister to the US President," he said.
Opposition parties were, however, not satisfied by Jaishankar's statement and wanted Modi to come to the House and clarify. This led to heated exchanges between opposition benches and Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, who adjourned proceedings. In Lok Sabha, the Opposition walked out demanding the prime minister's statement on Trump's remarks.
As soon as the Lower House met for the day, members from the Congress and some other opposition parties were on their feet shouting slogans over the issue. Later, when the Zero Hour began, Manish Tewari of the Congress said since Trump's statement is serious, Modi himself should clarify.
Trinamool Congress's Saugata Roy said it was in contravention to the position held by India. He also rejected any clarification by Jaishankar on the issue. AIADMK's TR Baalu said since the issue involved the PM, he should personally make a statement in the House.
When Jaishakar rose to make a statement, it was drowned in protest by the entire opposition. The opposition then walked out of proceedings.
Trump's comments have forced the US to jump into damage control, with several lawmakers calling Trump’s statement ‘amateurish and embarrassing’. However, buoyed by US President's offer, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that the contentious issue between the two South Asian neighbours can never be resolved bilaterally.
"There was one point when there was General (Pervez) Musharraf and Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee of India when we did get close to the resolution of the Kashmiri issue. But since then we are poles apart and I really feel that India should come on the table; US could play a big part. President Trump certainly can play a big part," Khan said hours after he met Trump at his Oval Office for the first time at the White House.
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