"We're talking about Kashmir in relation to what is going on with Pakistan and India. And if we can help we certainly will be helping," US President Trump says ahead of closed-door talks with Pakistan PM Imran Khan in Davos.

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan during a bilateral meeting at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2020.
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan during a bilateral meeting at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2020. (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump said the United States was watching developments between India and Pakistan over disputed Kashmir "very closely" and was prepared to help if necessary, but did not say how.

Speaking ahead of talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, Trump said trade and borders were both critical points for discussion, while Khan said that for him Afghanistan was the top priority.

"Trade is going to be of very, very paramount importance ... and we're working together on some borders, and we're talking about Kashmir in relation to what is going on with Pakistan and India. And if we can help we certainly will be helping," he said.

"We've been watching that and following it very, very closely," he added.

Tense situation

Kashmir, which sits high in the Himalayas between India and Pakistan has been in dispute between the nuclear-armed neighbours since they gained independence in 1947.

Tensions between the two have flared since August last year when India sent troops to its administered portion of Kashmir to quell unrest after it revoked the area's limited autonomy, crucial to Kashmir's conditional accession treaty with India signed in 1947. 

India says the decision is aimed to bring development to the region, but Kashmiris and Pakistan say India's Hindu nationalist government wants to turn the Muslim majority region into a Muslim-minority one by settling non-local Hindus.

Because India and Pakistan have fought two of three wars over Kashmir, any stand-off in the region is fraught with risk.

Khan, an international cricketer before turning to politics, said that while relations with India with regards to Kashmir were important, the most pressing concern was Afghanistan.

"The main issue, of course, is Afghanistan because it concerns the US and Pakistan," he said. "Both of us are interested in peace there and an orderly transition in Afghanistan with talks with the Taliban and the government."

Khan is one of at least three leaders Trump is scheduled to meet at Davos. 

The others include European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Iraqi President Barham Salih.

Indian soldier, policeman killed in battle

Meanwhile, an Indian policeman and a soldier were killed in a gunfight with rebels on Tuesday, a police official said.

The official, who requested anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media, said the government forces were conducting a cordon-and-search operation in Khrew area of southern Kashmir district of Pulwama after receiving inputs about the presence of rebels there.

During the search, the rebels opened fire at the forces, injuring a policeman and a soldier who later succumbed to their wounds.

The search operation was in progress in the area.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir's mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels' cause against Indian rule. Nearly 100,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown since 1989. 

The Indian military has been accused of suppressing the Kashmiri uprising using brutal tactics, including the infamous pellet guns which have wounded or blinded many Kashmiris.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies