Kashmir in focus: Trump meets PM Imran, touts mediation skills again
US President Donald Trump on Monday reiterated his offer for mediation between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir dispute but emphasised that arbitration could not be carried out unless both the parties involved welcome it.
Addressing the media alongside Prime Minister Imran Khan before their one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York, the US president acknowledged that the Kashmir was a complex issue that had been going on for a long time.
He said that he had never failed as an arbitrator in the past and would be available to help if asked. “If I can help, I will certainly do that,” he said. “If both (Pakistan and India) want, I am ready, willing and able to do it,” he said. “I think it’s important that both sides want Washington to mediate on the Kashmir issue.”
When asked if he was concerned about human rights violations in occupied Kashmir (IOK), he said, “Yes…I am, I want both sides to come to the negotiating table… I’d like to see everything work out. I want everybody to be treated well. There is always a solution and I do believe that there is a solution.”
Trump said he has a “very good relationship” with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as with Prime Minister Imran Khan and hoped the two neighbours would come together and resolve their differences over Kashmir. Without specifying, he added he had heard a “very aggressive” statement from Modi on Sunday, but “I hope they (Pakistan and India) are going to be able to come together and do something that’s really smart and good for both”.
Speaking about the Pakistan-US relations, Trump said the previous US governments treated Pakistan badly and that he trusts the current leadership of the country. “I trust Pakistan but people before me didn’t, but they didn’t know what they were doing,” he said in response to a question. “I really trust and like him [Imran Khan],” he said.
Commenting on Pakistan’s progress to counterterrorism, he said: “I have heard they have made great progress and I think he (Imran) wants to make great progress.” However, he added Iran was “doing very poorly”. He said when he took office, “Iran was a real threat to the entire Middle East and maybe beyond. And now they are having very very big difficulties, to put it mildly.” Answering another question, Trump termed Iran as the “number one state of terror in the world”.
About Afghanistan, Trump said he had a great discussion with Prime Minister Imran Khan on dialogue with the Taliban, the situation in Afghanistan and regional peace. He added they discussed enhancing of the bilateral trade volume which was currently very low.
This is the second interaction between the two leaders after July this year when they met at the Oval Office during the Imran’s visit to Washington. Trump said he wanted to meet the prime minister during the UNGA session as he (Imran) wanted to play his role for the regional development.
When Prime Minister Imran was asked about his expectations from Trump on Kashmir, he replied that Trump heads the most powerful country in the world, which has a responsibility to resolve disputes. “The world looks to the US to put out the flames in the world.
He said even though Trump had offered to mediate, India was refusing to talk to Pakistan. “In this situation, I feel that this is the beginning of a crisis. I honestly feel that the crisis is going to get much bigger [considering] what is happening in Kashmir,” cautioned.
Referring to the Afghan issue, the prime minister said stability in Afghanistan was need of the hour and in the best interest of Pakistan.