US President Donald Trump told Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan that their Indian counterpart Narendra Modi sought American mediation to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was visiting the White House on Monday when US President Donald Trump made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“If you would want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that,” Trump told Khan about the long-running conflict over Kashmir.

Trump said India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him for help. “I was with Prime Minister Modi, two weeks ago, and we talked about this subject, and he actually said ‘would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?’ I said, ‘where?’ He said ‘Kashmir.’”

Trump and Modi got together at the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28. Trump made his offer just weeks later to Khan.

Khan seemed to like the idea of resolving the 70-year dispute with India. 

“You would have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate and resolve this issue,” he told Trump.

The whole exchange triggered an outpouring of denials, rebukes and condemnation from India. 

India's leading opposition Congress party questioned Modi, of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for being 'mum' and not clarifying what "transpired between the two heads of states, more so when it affects our sovereignty?"

A few hours after Trump's remark, a spokesman for India's Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar, reiterated the country's traditional stance on the Kashmir dispute saying “all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally”.

Toeing the Indian government's official stance on Kashmir, many public intellectuals and journalists were quick to lash out at Trump. Popular Indian TV journalist, Barkha Dutt, called the US president “a liar”.  She also said the Indian government will deny that Modi asked Trump for help.

Another Indian journalist, Aditya Raj Kaul, tweeted his surprise and discomfort at Trump making Kashmir a trending topic on Twitter.

Pakistan’s Khan expressed his astonishment over the Indian response to Trump's Kashmir offer, saying Kashmiris have been suffering for several decades and this protracted conflict needs a resolution.

The US State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary Alice Wells reacted to India’s response to the offer of Kashmir arbitration, confirming that the Kashmir dispute is a “bilateral issue” yet noting the US is always “ready to assist”.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since Britain partitioned the neighbours in 1947. Two of these wars have been over Kashmir, the disputed region that both countries claim yet each administers a portion of.

Source: TRT World