US President Donald Trump reiterated his offer Thursday to mediate the Kashmir issue, seemingly unaware of India’s rejection of his earlier bid, saying that if “they” — both India and Pakistan presumably; or only India, it was not clear — asked, he would “certainly intervene”.
The president also seemed to be doubling down on a part of the earlier offer in which he had claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate in a recent conversation, which had been forcefully and swiftly dismissed by India.
“If they wanted somebody to intervene or to help them,” Trump said in response to question from a reporter at the White House about his earlier offer to mediate the Kashmir issue, “and I spoke to Pakistan about that … I spoke frankly with India about it… if they wanted me to I would certainly intervene”.
The “they” here could be both India and Pakistan or just India, which has historically opposed third-party mediation unlike Pakistan, which has been calling for it forever. And 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.
“I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago, and we talked about this subject,” Trump had said. “And he actually said, ‘Would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?’ I said, ‘Where?’ He said, ‘Kashmir.’
“If you want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that,” he said.
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.”
Trump spoke about his meeting with Khan then and said he believed the Pakistani and Indian leaders are “fantastic people” and “would imagine they can get along very well.”
And then went on to renew his offer and reiterate his conversation “frankly with India about it.”
A response was awaited from the White House to a request for why had the president repeated the offer despite India’s rejection of his previous offer, and if he did not indeed know of the Indian response.