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Willing to 'Assist' on Kashmir 'If Requested': In a Renewed Mediation Pitch, US Tones Down Trump's Offer

The clarification from the US State Department assumes significance as PM Modi and President Trump are expected to meet in Biarritz, France where India has been invited by the French President for the G-7 Summit.

Maha Siddiqui | CNN-News18

Updated:August 23, 2019, 11:04 AM IST
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Willing to 'Assist' on Kashmir 'If Requested': In a Renewed Mediation Pitch, US Tones Down Trump's Offer
File photo of US President Donald Trump.
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New Delhi: US President Donald Trump has yet again pitched himself in a position to mediate on Kashmir with Washington stating that it would "work towards reducing tensions" between India and Pakistan.

"We are helping the situation but there are tremendous problems between the two countries, and I would do my best to mediate or something," Trump had said. Now, the US state department has clarified his renewed pitch for mediation.

In reply to a query by News18, US State Department spokesperson said, “In his calls to Prime Ministers (Imran) Khan and (Narendra) Modi, President Trump has emphasised the need to work towards reducing tensions. While Kashmir is a bilateral issue for both parties to discuss, the President is willing to assist if requested by the parties. The United States has a longstanding interest in reducing tensions between India and Pakistan and creating an environment conducive for dialogue."

India has had a consistent position for close to five decades now that the matter will only be discussed bilaterally and it is not open to a third party intervention. This was reiterating by India only last month in Parliament.

The clarification from the US State Department assumes significance as PM Modi and President Trump are expected to meet in Biarritz, France where India has been invited by the French President for the G-7 Summit as ‘Biarritz Partner’. President Trump has said he will discuss Kashmir with PM Modi.

However, even as the State Department continues to tone down the statement from the White House yet again, President Trump has shown signs of acting as a mediator even through his phone calls to Prime Minister Modi and then to PM Imran Khan on August 19, just a day before once again using the word ‘mediation’ in the context of Kashmir.

On July 23, amidst a din in the Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar made the same statement twice to underline that India’s stated position on mediation on Kashmir hadn’t changed. He emphatically rejected the claim by by US President Donald Trump that PM Modi had requested for mediation in their meeting in Osaka. Jaishankar then said, “I would Sir, also reiterate that it has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally.”

This suo moto statement in Parliament came after an overnight check of records of the meeting in Osaka on the sidelines of the G20 summit, both on the Indian and American side, as stated by a source.

Before the statement was made, the US State Department too had put out a tweet that was taken to be a clarification by the US. The tweet said, “While Kashmir is a bilateral issue for both parties to discuss, the Trump administration welcomes Pakistan and India sitting down and the United States stands ready to assist.” The tweets was signed off by Assistant Secretary of State Alice G Wells.

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