India on Monday (22) denied that prime minister Narendra Modi asked US president Donald Trump to mediate the decades-long Kashmir conflict with Pakistan, emphasizing that third-party involvement is unnecessary.
Trump made the claim Monday while speaking from the Oval Office where he is hosting Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan.
The president said that during a meeting two weeks ago Modi had asked, “‘Would you like to be a mediator, or arbitrator?'” in Kashmir.
Raveesh Kumar, India’s ministry of external affairs spokesman, responded: “We have seen president Trump’s remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India and Pakistan, on the Kashmir issue.
“No such request has been made by prime minister to the US president.”
Kumar added: “It has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally.”
India and Pakistan divided Muslim-majority Kashmir after their independence in 1947, but both claim it in its entirety.
An insurgency on the Indian side over the past three decades has left more than 70,000 dead, mainly civilians.
“This has been going on for many, many years. I was surprised at how long,” Trump said.
“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator,” said Trump, who prides himself on being a dealmaker.
“Right now there’s just bombs all over the place. They say everywhere you go you have bombs and it’s a terrible situation… If I can do anything to help that, let me know.”
The Indian government accuses Pakistan of supporting the rebels, while Islamabad says it provides only moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris demanding self-determination.
The arch-rivals barely escaped a war in February when they launched cross-border air strikes at each other, sending tensions to the highest level since both obtained nuclear weapons.
Air force involvement followed a February 14 suicide bombing claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) group that killed 40 troops in Indian Kashmir.
Since then, both nations stepped back from the brink but violence still occurs regularly in Kashmir.
In early July Pakistan’s military accused India of killing five soldiers during a blast along the de facto border.
Last month India’s Central Reserve Police Force said militants attacked a patrol, killing three of the paramilitaries.