US President Donald Trump made a startling claim yesterday that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought his help on the Kashmir issue, a claim promptly denied by India.
“We have seen @POTUS' 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 @narendrmodi to US President," the spokesman of India’s External Affairs Ministry Raveesh Kumar said in a Twitter post late on Monday night.
He said "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. The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India & Pakistan bilaterally,” he said in another post on the micro-blogging social media, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
Trumnp, during a joint media appearance with visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House on Monday, claimed “I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago and we talked about this subject and he actually said: ‘would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator.’ I said ‘where,’ he said ‘Kashmir.’ Because this has been going on for many, many years… I think they would like to see it resolved… If I can help, I would love to be a mediator, Trump said.
Trump and Modi had met each other on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 27.
Uproar at Indian parliament
Both the Houses of Indian parliament today witnessed uproar by opposition lawmakers over US President Donald Trump's stunning claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to "mediate" on the Kashmir issue even as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said he wanted to "categorically assure the House that no such request had been made by the PM to the American President.
"I would like to put it on record in the House (Rajya Sabha) that no such request (on Kashmir) was made by the Prime Minister to the President of the United States. All issues with Pakistan has and will remain bilateral between India and Pakistan," Jaishankar said in the Rajya Sabha.
Opposition parties in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha demanded a statement from Modi clarifying his position on Trump's comment made during a joint media appearance with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Washington on Monday.
As soon as the Lok Sabha met for the day, lawmakers of the Congress and some other opposition parties were on their feet shouting slogans over the issue.
Amid ruckus in the House, Speaker Om Birla said it was a serious issue and there should not be any politics over the matter. He urged members to rise above party lines and think about national interest.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said opposition members were trying to belittle the image of the country, which is "highly unfair and uncalled for".
Congress members were heard shouting "we want an answer" and the party's leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the Prime Minister should give an answer.
Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were present in the House.
In the Rajya Sabha, senior Congress lawmaker Anand Sharma said “this is a very serious issue and we respect the fact that this is an issue of national importance. We all agree that India has maintained that all issues with Pakistan will be dealt only bilaterally but since this is a very serious allegation, which the head of state of the United States - the President - made about our Prime Minister - we would expect the Prime Minister to come to the House and give a statement himself. We want him to respond."
As the opposition continued to protest, Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, the Vice President, briefly adjourned the house.
Trump said on Monday that "I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago, and we talked about the subject. And he actually said, 'would you like to be a mediator, or arbitrator', and I said 'where?', and he said 'Kashmir', because this has been going on for many, many years. I was surprised for how long it has been going on," to which Imran Khan interjected to say, "70 years".
"I think they would like to see it resolved. I think you would like to see it resolved and if I can help, I would love to be a mediator. It is impossible to believe that two incredible countries that are very, very smart and very smart leadership can't resolve it... but if you want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do it," the US President said.
India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had tweeted late on Monday night that no such request was made by the Indian PM . "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. The Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally."
Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor blamed Trump over the row, saying he "doesn't know what he is saying" and "it looks like he wasn't briefed properly."
It was "impossible that PM Modi can ask such a thing, our policy has always been against mediation," he added.
Meanwhile, the US State Department, in a damage-control clarification on Trump’s remark, said while Kashmir is a bilateral issue, "the Trump administration welcomes Pakistan and India sitting down and the United States stands ready to assist"