In a bid to assuage the hurt feelings of New Delhi caused by US President Donald Trump’s goof up during his joint Press Conference with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the US administration clarified that Kashmir is very much a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.
India had already dismissed the US President’s claim saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had never requested Trump to mediate on the Kashmir issue. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar told Parliament that no such “claim was made” by India. Embarrassed by Trump’s remarks, US Democrats termed Trump’s claim as “amateurish” and apologised to Indian envoy.
Meanwhile, a jubilant Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was surprised by India’s response to Trump’s claims. “Surprised by reaction of India to Pres Trump’s offer of mediation to bring Pak & India to dialogue table for resolving Kashmir conflict which has held subcontinent hostage for 70 yrs,” Khan tweeted.
The US administration did all possible to calm India’s feelings. Acting Assistant Secretary Alice Wells clarified that the US administration welcomes India and Pakistan sitting down to resolve the “bilateral” issue and the “US stands ready to assist”. In stating that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, echoed India’s stand on the subject.
“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,” says Acting Assistant Secretary Alice Wells.
However, foreign policy experts maintained that India should not be worried too much as Trump’s credibility is very low. They didn’t see any change in India’s stance on Kashmir. “Everyone who knows anything about foreign policy in South Asia knows that India consistently opposes third-party mediation (regarding) Kashmir,” Congressman Brad Sherman of California tweeted.
He further wrote: “Everyone knows that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would never suggest such a thing. Trump’s statement is amateurish and delusional. And embarrassing.”
Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs who played a key role in the India-US civil nuclear deal during the Bush Administration, termed the entire episode “embarrassing” and said “this is what happens in diplomacy when you make things up.”
“This is embarrassing, to say the least, for President Trump. His claim that PM Modi asked him to mediate the Kashmir conflict denied categorically by Delhi. This is what happens in diplomacy when you make things up,” he tweeted.
“Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. The Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally,” the MEA statement said.
Former diplomat Parthasarathy said: “Nobody trusts Trump. And he was contradicted by his own State Department, and in the White House statement there is no reference to what he said. If it was true, it would be very prominent in the White House statement.”
Former diplomat, T.P. Sreenivasan said: “Those who have been keeping an eye on President Trump’s lies have calculated that he has exceeded 10,000 terminological inexactitudes, otherwise known as lies.”