President Donald Trump “does not make up things”, a top presidential advisor said on Tuesday when asked about a question on his stunning claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue, remarks which has been strongly refuted by India.
It is “a very rude question,” Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House when a journalist following up on the president’s remarks asked if it was made up.
“The president doesn’t make things up,” Kudlow said.
A day earlier, Trump offered to be the “mediator” between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as he met Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House.
Trump had claimed that Prime Minister Modi asked him to mediate on Kashmir when they met in Osaka, Japan on the sidelines of the G20 Summit last month.
India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by Pakistan-based militants, maintaining that talks and violence cannot go together.
Kashmir a bilateral issue between India, Pak: US
Meanwhile, the Trump administration launched a damage control exercise after the President’s remarks about mediation on Kashmir, with the State Department on Tuesday saying it was a “bilateral” issue between India and Pakistan, and the US “welcomes” the two countries “sitting down” for talks.
It also said Pakistan taking “sustained and irreversible” steps against terrorism is key to a successful dialogue with India.
“While Kashmir is a bilateral issue for both parties to discuss, the Trump administration welcomes Pakistan and India sitting down and the United States stands ready to assist,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI in response to a question if Donald Trump’s remarks reflect a change in the country’s policy on Kashmir.
India has already rejected Trump’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought his mediation on the Kashmir issue.
For more than a decade, the US has consistently insisted that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and it is for the two countries to decide on the nature and scope of the dialogue.
“We believe the foundation for any successful dialogue between India and Pakistan is based on Pakistan taking sustained and irreversible steps against militants and terrorists on its territory. These actions are in line with Prime Minister (Imran) Khan’s stated commitments, and Pakistan’s international obligations,” the State Department spokesperson said.
“We will continue to support efforts that reduce tensions and create an environment conducive for dialogue. This first and foremost means tackling the menace of terrorism. As the President indicated, we stand ready to assist,” the spokesperson said in response to a question.
Meanwhile, the White House said that the US is ready to assist on the Kashmir issue.
“As the President made clear, the United States stands ready to assist if requested by both India and Pakistan,” a senior administration official told PTI. On Monday, Trump stunned India by saying that Prime Minister Modi, during the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, sought his help in resolving the Kashmir issue. PTI