Davos, January 22
President Donald Trump has said that the US is watching the developments between India and Pakistan over Kashmir “very closely” and repeated his offer to “help” resolve the longstanding dispute between the two neighbours as he met Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum here in the Swiss ski resort.
Addressing the media with the Pakistan Prime Minister prior to their private meeting on Tuesday, President Trump asserted that trade and borders were both critical points for discussion, while Khan said that for him Afghanistan was the top priority.
Trump told Khan, whom he referred to as “my friend” that he would speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the ongoing Kashmir issue. The US President is expected to visit India in the coming weeks, marking his first visit after taking up his post in the White House.
“What’s going on between Pakistan and India…if we can help, we certainly will be willing to. We have been watching it very closely and it’s an honour to be here with my friend,” Trump said.
“The Pakistan-India conflict is a very big issue for us in Pakistan and we expect the US to always play its part in deescalating the tensions, because no other country can,” Khan said.
Trump has repeatedly offered to mediate following India’s August 5 decision to revoke the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into Union Territories, evoking strong reactions from Pakistan which has been trying to internationalise the issue.
New Delhi has defended its move, saying Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and the issue was strictly internal to the country, and the special status provisions only gave rise to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The country took the decision of abrogation of Article 370, which had only given separatism and terrorism to that state,” Prime Minister Modi had said in October.
Although President Trump has offered to mediate on the Kashmir issue in the past, New Delhi has told Washington that it is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan and there is no scope for any third-party mediation.
On the sidelines of the G7 summit in the French town of Biarritz in August last year, Modi, while interacting with the media alongside President Trump, categorically rejected any scope for third-party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, saying the two countries could discuss and resolve all issues bilaterally and “we don’t want to trouble any third country”.
This was the third meeting between Trump and Khan since the Pakistan premier assumed office in 2018, and it came against the backdrop of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s recent trip to the US, amid reports that the US and Afghan Taliban were close to striking a peace deal.
“There are issues we want to talk about. The main issue is Afghanistan because it concerns the US and Pakistan. Fortunately, we are on the same page. Both of us are interested in peace there and an orderly transition in Afghanistan with talks with Taliban and the government,” Khan said.
When a reporter asked Trump if he would visit Pakistan considering he was already set to visit India, the US President said he was meeting the Pakistan premier in Davos.
“Well, we’re visiting right now. So we don’t really have to. I wanted to say that from a relationship standpoint, we got a great relationship. From the standpoint our two countries, we’re getting along very well. I would say we’ve never been closer with Pakistan the way we’re right now. And this is a big statement,” Trump said.
Khan left for Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum and meet the world leaders, including President Trump, on Tuesday. The four-day summit which kicked off on Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of the forum.
A total of 53 heads of State are on the guest list. Nearly 3,000 participants from 118 countries are expected to attend the event during which political leaders, business executives, heads of international organisations and civil society representatives are set to deliberate on contemporary economic, geopolitical, social and environmental issues. PTI
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