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.”
Mr. Modi made these remarks while interacting with the media alongside U.S. 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.
Mr. Trump in the recent past has offered mediation between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.
“All the issues between India and Pakistan are bilateral in nature, and we don’t want to trouble any third country. We can discuss and resolve these issues bilaterally,” Mr. Modi said.
He 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,” he said.
On his part, Mr. Trump said he and Mr. Modi spoke about Kashmir “at great length” on Sunday night and he feels that both India and Pakistan can resolve it on their own.
“We spoke 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,” Mr. 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 for dinner & I learned a lot about India,” the U.S. President said. Mr. Modi also thanked Mr. Trump for congratulating him after his recent election victory.
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 reporters after the talks between Mr. Modi and Mr. 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.
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, Mr. Gokhale said India had not taken any steps to harm regional stability. “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,” Mr. Gokhale said.