SRINAGAR: In a new turn of events, US President Donald Trump is reported to have offered to mediate the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan. The news break came after the Pakistan premier Imran Khan met Trump at Oval office.
“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator,” Trump was quoted saying by Pakistan newspaper Express Tribune at the White House, where he was hosting Prime Minister Imran Khan. “If I can do anything to help, let me know.”
Though the joint press conference was dominated completely by the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, it was a Pakistani journalist’s question about Kashmir that diverted the two leaders towards Kashmir. As the journalist was asking the question, Trump indicated Imran Khan to respond first. Transcribed from live streaming video by Washington Post, here is what they said:
Imran Khan: I will be asking President Trump, it is the most powerful country in the world; it can play the most important role in bringing peace to the subcontinent. There are billion and a quarter people in the subcontinent. They are held hostage to the issue of Kashmir and I feel the only most powerful state headed by President Trump can bring the two countries together. From my point of view I can tell you that we have tried our best, we made all overtures to India to start a dialogue and resolve our differences through dialogue but unfortunately, we haven’t made headways as yet but I am hoping that President Trump would push this process.
Donald Trump: I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago, and we talked about this and he actually said: ‘would you like to be a mediator, an arbitrator.
I said where? He said Kashmir because this has been going on for many many years.
I was surprised for how long?
Imran Khan: 70 years
Donald Trump: I think they would like to see results; You would like to see results. I would love to be a mediator. It shouldn’t be, it is impossible to believe that two incredible countries that are very very smart with very smart leadership cannot solve the problem. But if you want me to mediate or arbitrate I will be willing to do so.
Imran Khan: President I can tell you that you will have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate and resolve.
Donald Trump: It should be resolved. So he has said to me the same thing. So maybe I will speak to him so that we can do something. I have heard so much about Kashmir, such a beautiful name, such a beautiful part of the world, right now it has bombs over the place. So everywhere you go you have bombs. It is a terrible situation because it has been there for many years if I can do anything to help that.
It was back to Afghanistan after the Kashmir comment.
Trump said the United States is working with Islamabad to find a way out of the war in Afghanistan. Trump held out the possibility of restoring US aid to Pakistan, depending upon what is worked out, and offered assistance to Islamabad in trying to ease strained ties with India.
The meeting between US President Donald Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is underway at the White House, with talks centring on Afghanistan as the US seeks a peace accord with the Taliban to end more than 18 years of war.
Earlier, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed Khan’s meeting with Trump as the start of a new era of bilateral relations.
The meeting between the two leaders comes almost half a year after Trump accused Pakistan of lying and being duplicitous. Interestingly, Trump said Pakistan disrespected the US during the last 18 years. He said this was why the US stopped aid to Pakistan.
“I don’t think Pakistan respected the United States” in the past, Trump said, but “they are helping us a lot now,” Trump was quoted by AFP as saying.
The United States is pressing for a political agreement with the Taliban before presidential voting in Afghanistan in late September. This would clear the way for most US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan and bring an end to America’s longest war, TV News 18 reported. Days before Khan’s visit, Pakistani authorities detained Lashkar-e-Toiba leader Hafiz Saeed.
Khan has flown to the US with the leadership of his entire security grid indicating that something concrete may happen on Afghanistan front. Khan said it is Pakistan is desperate to end Afghanistan conflict because it impacts its stability.