Wait for bilateral meet, says Indian diplomat on Trump’s mediation offer on Jammu and Kashmir

PTI New York | Updated on September 24, 2019 Published on September 24, 2019

Asking journalists to “wait” for the meeting between Narendra Modi and Donald Trump, a senior Indian diplomat refused to comment on the US President’s offer to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, and his description of the Prime Minister’s statement in Houston as “very aggressive”.

Describing himself as “an extremely good arbitrator”, Trump, on Monday, said that he was ready to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue if both sides agree to it. He also described a statement made by PM Modi on Pakistan’s support for terrorism as “very aggressive”. “Where do you find conspirators of 9/11 and 26/11 terror attacks,” Modi had said, in an apparent reference to Pakistan. “It is time for a decisive battle against terrorism,” Modi had said at the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event in Houston.

‘Hold on’

“There is a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) between Prime Minister Modi and President Trump. So let us wait for the meeting,” Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs A Gitesh Sarma told a press briefing here on Monday in response to a question on the US President’s remarks on Modi’s statements and his offer again for mediation.

Trump made the remarks during his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session here. India maintains that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral one and no third party has any role in it.

Responding to a similar query on Trump’s offer to mediate, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar referred to Sarma’s response that one should wait for Tuesday’s bilateral meeting. “The Secretary’s response (to wait for the bilateral meeting) is after giving some thought. You know, you are aware about our position, we have mentioned about this in the past. But my request is just hold on. Just hold on for the meeting tomorrow. I think it’s not very far,” Kumar said.

In less than two days after the “Howdy, Modi!” event in Houston, Trump and Modi will meet again for bilateral talks Tuesday following Trump’s address to the UN General Debate.

On Monday, Trump praised the ‘Howdy, Modi’ mega rally in the presence of the Pakistani premier and said he has heard a “very aggressive statement” by Prime Minister Modi at the mega rally. “I heard a very aggressive statement yesterday. I was there. I didn’t know I was going to hear that statement...but I was sitting there. And I heard a very aggressive statement yesterday, from India, from the Prime Minister,” Trump said.

However, at the same time, he said the statement was “very well received within the room”. “And I will say it was very well received within the room, the statement itself. That was a big room, 59,000 people. But it was a very aggressive statement. And I hope that they’re going to be able to come together, India and Pakistan, and do something that’s really smart and good for both. And I’m sure that...there’s always a solution. And I really believe there’s a solution to that,” Trump said.

Revoking Article 370

On August 5, the Indian government revoked special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two union territories.

Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”. New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.

Trump and Imran last met in July at the White House. During their first one-on-one interaction, the US president had expressed his willingness to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue - an offer India rejected.

During Modi’s meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in France last month, the prime minister categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

According to a readout of the Monday’s meeting between Trump and Khan issued by the White House, the two leaders discussed opportunities to deepen mutually beneficial energy cooperation and trade ties.

They also discussed ways to de-escalate tension between Pakistan and India, including combatting terrorism, and the importance of India-Pakistan dialogue to resolve disputes between them.

Published on September 24, 2019
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