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Trump again offers to mediate India-Pakistan talks over Kashmir

  • 23 Sep 2019

US President Donald Trump renews his willingness to mediate negotiations between India and Pakistan over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, claiming he has "never failed as an arbitrator."

US President Donald Trump greets Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York City, New York, US, September 23, 2019 ( Reuters )

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday pressed US President Donald Trump to restart talks with Afghanistan's Taliban and said Washington has a "duty" to calm the Kashmir standoff with India. 

Trump responded that he would "certainly" help mediate between Pakistan and India as long as both governments asked for this.

"Stability in Afghanistan means stability in Pakistan," Khan said at the start of a meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Khan also pleaded for help in Kashmir, a disputed Muslim-majority territory, part of which has been placed under a severe military clampdown by neighbouring India, restricting many basic freedoms since last month when New Delhi scrapped the limited autonomy of the region dubbed "illegal annexation" by Pakistan. 

"The most powerful country in the world has a responsibility," Khan said, calling India's clampdown "a siege" and warning that the "crisis is going to get much bigger."

Trump showed eagerness to mediate over Kashmir if both sides asked for it.

"I am ready willing and able. It's a complex issue, it's been going on for a long time. But if both wanted it, I would be ready to do it," the US president said.

"I think I'd be an extremely good arbitrator. I've done it before, believe it or not, and I've never failed as an arbitrator."

Talks with Taliban

In a photo opportunity just before that meeting, Trump said he is hopeful the two nations can come together and do something smart but both sides would need to agree on his involvement. 

That's something India has resisted.

"It's a great honour to be with my friend the prime minister of Pakistan. We have some great discussions going on with Pakistan about a lot of things, including the Taliban in Afghanistan and many other things," Trump said.

"And trade I think maybe is one of the most important, we're going to increase trade with Pakistan by a tremendous margin. So we'll be talking about trade and other things. And it's an honour to be with you."

On Afghanistan, Trump said it was "ridiculous" that the United States had been fighting there for 19 years.

However, he made no promises about restarting peace talks with the Taliban, saying only "we'll see."

Trump has frequently called for an end to America's longest war, launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Trump's comments came a day after he attended a rally in Houston with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Trump pitches for Nobel prize

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, and each claims rights to all of it. The nuclear-armed rivals have fought two wars over the region's control. Majority in Kashmir Valley want independence or merger of the territory with Pakistan and have continued both armed and non-violent struggle since 1989. 

India has deployed over 500,000 troops to quell the armed rebellion and stone-pelting protests against its rule.

For his part, Khan thanked Trump for "kindly" volunteering to mediate the Kashmir situation. But he said India is "refusing to talk to" Pakistan and warned that "this crisis is going to get much bigger."

Trump also said he believes he would get a Nobel Peace Prize for "a lot of things, if they gave it out fairly, which they don't."

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