Will do my best to mediate Kashmir situation, says US President

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has once again offered to mediate between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir issue.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Trump said he would do his best “to mediate or do something” regarding the tensions between India and Pakistan over the disputed Himalayan region.

Trump had offered to mediate between Pakistan and India on Kashmir during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inaugural visit to the US, however, India had rejected the offer making it clear that there can’t be any third-party intervention on the issue. However, Pakistan welcomed it.

“Well, they’ve been having this — these talks for hundreds of years, even under different names. But this is — but its Kashmir. And Kashmir is a very complicated place. You have the Hindus and you have the Muslims, and I wouldn’t say they get along so great. And that’s what you have right now,” Trump said when asked if the issue between the two nuclear-armed neighbours was solvable.

He added, “You have millions of people that want to be ruled by others and maybe on both sides. And you have two countries that haven’t gotten along well for a long time. And, frankly, it’s a very explosive situation.”

“I spoke to Prime Minister Imran Khan. I spoke with, yesterday, also, Prime Minister Modi. They are both friends of mine. They are great people. They are great people. And they love their countries. And they’re in a very tough situation,” Trump continued.

He noted that Kashmir was a very tough situation. “And, you know, we’re talking about — this has been going on for decades and decades. Shooting. I don’t mean shooting like shooting a rifle, I mean like major shooting of howitzers, of — you know, of heavy arms. And it’s been going on for a long period of time.”

“But I get along really well with both of them. As you know, Prime Minister Khan was here just recently. And I was with — I’m going to be with Prime Minister Modi. I’ll be with him over the weekend in France,” he added.

He once again reiterated his help and said, “I think we’re helping the situation. But there are tremendous problems between those two countries, as you know. And I will do the best I can to meditate or do something. Great relationship with both of them, but they are not exactly friends at this moment. Complicated situation.”

Trump added he would speak to the Indian prime minister regarding the issue in occupied Kashmir over the weekend at the G7 summit in France. 

Pakistan within its right to take Kashmir issue to ICJ: US

Speaking to reporters, a senior US official on the condition of anonymity told an Indian publication, “We recognise that it’s an internal matter, but it obviously has implications outside of India’s borders.”

“We have long called for direct conversations between India and Pakistan to resolve what have been the decades of tensions generated by that issue,” the official said. 

He further called on India to move quickly to release detainees to restore basic freedom and to return the valley to normalcy. “We continue to be very concerned by reports of detentions and the continued restrictions on the residents of the region. We urge respect for individual rights, compliance with legal procedures and inclusive dialogue with those affected,” the official said.

In response to a question on whether US president’s phone conversations with the Pakistan and Indian prime ministers constituted mediation, the official said, “The president has offered to mediate if asked by both parties.”

Speaking about Pakistan’s decision to take the Kashmir issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the official said it was Pakistan sovereign decision whether it wants to approach the ICJ.

“Our view is a resolution in Kashmir is not aided by multilateralising it, that the answer is direct conversation between India and Pakistan,” the official said.”