India on Friday once again underlined the bilateral nature of Kashmir issue with Pakistan and told the US in “clear terms” that any discussion on the subject will happen only with Islamabad.
New Delhi’s comment comes just hours after US president Donald Trump once again stressed that he would “certainly intervene” if “they” asked. It was, however, not clear if “they” was used for India or Pakistan, or both.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is in Bangkok attending the ASEAN summit, tweeted that he had conveyed New Delhi’s intent to his US counterpart Mike Pompeo.
“Have conveyed to American counterpart @SecPompeo this morning in clear terms that any discussion on Kashmir, if at all warranted, will only be with Pakistan and only bilaterally,” Jaishankar wrote.
Have conveyed to American counterpart @SecPompeo this morning in clear terms that any discussion on Kashmir, if at all warranted, will only be with Pakistan and only bilaterally.
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) August 2, 2019
Donald Trump, while answering a question from a reporter at the White House about his earlier offer to mediate on Kashmir issue, said: “If they wanted somebody to intervene and I spoke to Pakistan about that… I spoke frankly with India about it… if they wanted me to I would certainly intervene”.
Trump first made the offer, with the claim about Modi, on June 22 in response to a public appeal from the visiting Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan in joint remarks at the White House.
India denied Modi had ever asked Trump to mediate and reiterated known Indian position that all issues with Pakistan can only be resolved bilaterally and after Pakistan stops supporting terrorism.
The state department followed up, and reiterated old US position, and one very different from Trump, that India and Pakistan should resolve their differences bilaterally and that the United States stands ready to assist.
With that, both sides decided to move on. A senior state department official took pretty much the same line at briefing for reporters Wednesday on Khan’s recent visit. “The US ability to encourage a constructive dialogue between India and Pakistan whether on Kashmir or other bilateral issues will be a function of Pakistan taking sustained and irreversible steps against militants and terrorists on its territory,” the official said.
But it seems President Trump did not get an update on his offer, and was still waiting for response. When asked by a reporter Thursday, Trump replied with question: “Have they accepted the offer or not?”
When told they had not, he said, “Well it’s really up to Prime Minister Modi.”