If asked by India and Pakistan, US President Donald Trump is ready to mediate on the issue of Kashmir, a senior administration official said on Thursday. The official also reiterated that the onus for peace talks lies on Islamabad by taking sustained and irreversible actions against terrorist groups.
Trump in the recent past has offered mediation between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. India, however, has maintained its stance that the Kashmir being an internal issue needs to be discussed bilaterally between the two countries.
‘He (Trump) certainly is prepared to play a mediation role, if both the countries ask. It has been India’s position not to seek outside mediation,’ said the official in response to a question.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, recently, rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir,.
Requesting anonymity, the official, when asked if the US supports India’s position that ‘talks and terror cannot go together’, said it is important that Pakistan take ‘sustainable and irreversible steps against terrorism’. It is also possible to have a dialogue and the United States encourages the countries to engage as two nuclear powers living side by side.
On October 22, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells, in a stern warning to Pakistan, said, ‘Pakistan’s harbouring of terrorist groups like Lashkar-e- Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammed, which seek to foment violence across the Line of Control, is destabilising, and Pakistani authorities remain accountable for their actions.’
The official termed the signing of Memorandum of Understanding on Kartarpur Corridor a welcome confidence building measure between India and Pakistan which will help increase people-to-people contact.
‘While it’s a small step, we need more like this to also create the will, the goodwill and the environment for constructive dialogue,’ the official said.
India and Pakistan on Thursday signed an agreement for operationalising the Kartarpur Corridor that will allow Indian pilgrims visa-free access to the gurdwara built at the site in Pakistani Punjab where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, spent the last years of his life.