External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Tuesday categorically denied U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought his help in resolving the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan.
“No such request was made by the Prime Minister to the U.S. President,” Mr. Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha.
The issue was raised by Congress member Anand Sharma and CPI’s D. Raja. While Mr. Raja sought to know if the government had changed its position on Kashmir, Mr. Sharma insisted the Prime Minister should inform the House what he told Mr. Trump.
“I would like to reiterate that India’s position is that all issues with Pakistan will be discussed only bilaterally and no third party will be involved in mediation. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross-border terrorism,” the Minister said, adding that the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration would continue to be the only basis to resolve all issues between both the nations.
However, the Opposition was not satisfied with his reply. With the Opposition members insisting on a reply from the Prime Minister himself, the was adjourned till 12 noon.
Issue echoes in Lok Sabha
The issue was raised in the Lok Sabha as well, with Congress member Kodikunnil Suresh giving notice seeking an adjournment motion. Congress members raised slogans as soon as the House assembled. CLP leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury claimed, “India has bowed before the U.S.” Strongly objecting to his remarks, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said Mr. Jaishankar would make a statement.
Mr. Trump on Monday said he had offered to mediate the decades-long Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, as Mr. Modi had asked him to do so.
“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,” Mr. Trump had said at the White House, where he was hosting Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The External Affairs Minister quickly refuted Mr. Trump’s claim. “We have seen [Mr. Trump’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 spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Monday.