New Delhi/Washington, Jul 22: Amid trade tariff issues between the US and India, President Donald Trump on Monday virtually opened a can of worms vis-a-vis the relations between two countries by stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked him to 'mediate' between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.
The Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi quickly denied Mr Trump's claim and even a senior opposition leader Shashi Tharoor of Congress party has said that the US President perhaps did not have "the slightest idea of what he is talking about". "We have seen @POTUS's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM Narendra Modi to US President," MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, not known for being very friendly to the ruling BJP, also tweeted saying: "Personally I think Donald Trump is talking out of his hat when he says PM India (Modi) asked for US involvement in solving the Kashmir issue but I would like to see MEA India call Trump out on his claim".
Mr Tharoor, a former Union Minister and an ex-UN diplomat, did not embarrass the government and rather in a reasonable response tweeted: "I honestly don't think Trump has the slightest idea of what he's talking about. He has either not been briefed or not understood what (Prime Minister) Modi was saying or what India's position is on 3rd-party mediation".
However, he tweeted: "....That said, MEA should clarify that Delhi has never sought his intercession". During interaction with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at White House, President Trump said:
"....Because I have heard so much about Kashmir. It is such a beautiful name. Supposed to be such a beautiful part of the world, but right now there are just bombs all over the place. There is a terrible situation going for many years. If I can do anything, let me know".
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also pointed out in another missive that Mr Trump had "In fact, has already said the same thing in 2016".According to a media interview in 2016, Mr Trump - then the Republican presidential nominee had described the ongoing India-Pakistan tensions as a “very, very hot tinderbox” and also had said that he would - “love to be the mediator or arbitrator” if it was necessary and if the two countries wanted him to. President Trump's remarks sparked off a major row with Congress party's media in charge Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeting - "To ask a foreign power to mediate in J&K by PM Modi is a sacrilegious betrayal of country's interests. Let PM answer to the Nation".
The candid tweets from Indian foreign ministry spokesman comes after row over President Trump's response to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan asking for support to push peace talks between India and Pakistan. "I met Indian PM Modi two weeks ago.. he asked me, do you want to be mediator, arbitrator.. .I asked where? He said Kashmir," Mr Trump is heard saying in a video that has gone viral.
The conflict between India and Pakistan dates back to 1947 and both the countries have fought wars and had major conflict on this in 1999.MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar also wrote on the micro blogging site: "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". He also said: "The Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India & Pakistan bilaterally".
The Shimla Agreement between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her Pakistani counterpart was inked on July 2, 1972 while Lahore Declaration was signed when Atal Bihari Vajpayee had made the famous bus journey to Lahore during the stint of Pak PM Nawaz Sharif on February 21, 1999.
Lately, India and Pakistan relations have gone frosty after Pulwama terror strike on February 14 and India also carried out an aerial attack on terror camp at Balakot in Pakistan on February 26.
"I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago and we talked about this subject (Kashmir). And he actually said, 'would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?' I said, 'where?' (Modi said) 'Kashmir'," Trump said referring to his interactions with Prime Minister Modi at Osaka in Japan last month.
Cricketer-turned-Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan met President Trump in Washington for the first time since he assumed power in August, 2018. ".....all those issues should be resolved. So, he (Modi) has to ask me the same thing. So maybe we will speak to him. Or I will speak to him and we will see if we can do something," Mr Trump said. However, President maintained his country has a "very good relationship with India".
During interaction Imran Khan, who was sitting by President Trump's side in the White House, said "Right now, you would have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate (on Kashmir)," Khan told Trump. (UNI)