Modi did not ask Trump to mediate Kashmir conflict: India
NEW DELHI: India yesterday denied that Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked US President Donald Trump to mediate the decades-long Kashmir conflict with Pakistan, emphasising that third-party involvement is unnecessary.
Mr Trump made the claim on Monday while speaking from the Oval Office where he hosted Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The US President said that during a meeting two weeks ago Mr Modi had asked, "Would you like to be a mediator, or arbitrator?" on Kashmir.
Mr Raveesh Kumar, India's foreign ministry spokesman, responded: "We have seen President Trump's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India and Pakistan, on the Kashmir issue.
"No such request has been made by Prime Minister to the US President."
Mr Kumar added: "It has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross-border terrorism."
India and Pakistan divided Muslim-majority Kashmir after their independence in 1947, but both claim it in its entirety. An insurgency on the Indian side over the past three decades has left more than 70,000 dead, mainly civilians.
"I honestly don't think Trump has the slightest idea of what he is talking about," Mr Shashi Tharoor, a senior politician from India's main opposition Congress party, said on Twitter.
Mr Trump said he "was surprised at how long" the Kashmir conflict has festered.
"If I can help, I would love to be a mediator," said the President, who prides himself on being a dealmaker.
"Right now there are just bombs all over the place. They say everywhere you go, you have bombs, and it is a terrible situation... If I can do anything to help that, let me know."
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three full-scale wars over the Himalayan region and barely escaped another one in February when they launched cross-border air strikes at each other, sending tensions to the highest level. - AFP