Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday categorically rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, saying the two countries can discuss and resolve all issues bilaterally and “we don’t want to trouble any third country.”
PM Modi made these remarks while interacting with the media alongside US President Donald Trump who ahead of his meeting with the prime minister had said that he will discuss the Kashmir issue with him on the sidelines of the G7 summit in the French town of Biarritz.
Trump in recent past has offered mediation between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. “All the issues between India and Pakistan are of bilateral in nature, and we don’t want to trouble any third country. We can discuss and resolve these issues bilaterally,” Modi said.
PM Modi said India and Pakistan were together before 1947 and he was confident that the two neighbours can discuss their problems and solve them. “When I had called Prime Minister Khan after the elections, I told him that Pakistan has to fight against poverty, India has to also fight against it. Pakistan has to fight against illiteracy and disease, and India has to also fight against them…I told him we should work together for the welfare of our people,” PM Modi said.
On his part, Trump said he and Modi spoke about Kashmir “at great length” last night and he feels that both India and Pakistan can resolve it on their own. “We spoke last night about Kashmir, the Prime Minister really feels he has it (situation) under control. They speak with Pakistan and I’m sure that they will be able to do something that will be very good,” Trump said. “I have very good relationship with both the gentlemen (Modi and Khan) and I’m here. I think they can do it (resolve the issue) themselves,” he added.
“We are talking about trade, we’re talking about military and many different things. We had some great discussions, we were together last night for dinner & I learned a lot about India,” the US President said.
PM Modi also thanked Trump for congratulating him after his recent election victory and said their two countries had “shared democratic values.” Their meeting came against the backdrop of the Indian government revoking the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the state into two Union Territories on August 5.
Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, evoking strong reactions from Pakistan. India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.
Briefing the reporters after the talks between Modi and Trump, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the two leaders had a “very warm, very positive meeting” which lasted 40 minutes. This was their third interaction since Prime Minister Modi was re-elected in May this year for a second five year term. When asked about the discussion on the Kashmir issue during the talks, the foreign secretary said there was “no discussion” on it during the bilateral meeting.
To another question, Gokhale said India has not taken any steps to harm the regional stability. “The normalcy is returning to Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, adding that certain restrictions will remain in place in the state to maintain law and order. “Their meeting principally focussed on trade and energy,” Gokhale said.
“The prime minister spoke of the importance of energy imports from the US and he referred to the fact that USD 4 billion worth of imports were already in the pipeline and that would be expected to be stepped up,” he said.
During his visit to the US next month to address the UN General Assembly, the prime minister is expected to have a round table with the top CEOs of the US energy companies in Houston. “The objective is two fold, first to see how we can import more energy from the US and second is how we can invest in the energy sector in the US,” Gokhale said, adding that President Trump has offered to send a top administration official to the conference to facilitate it.