WASHINGTON, D.C.— President Donald Trump Aug. 19 called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to alleviate tensions between India and Pakistan that have precipitated international concern in the wake of the Indian government’s decision to revoke Article 370 and 35A of its constitution that provides special status for Kashmir.
The White House in providing a readout of the telephone call on Aug. 19, said the two leaders had “also discussed regional developments and the U.S.-India strategic partnership.”
“The President conveyed the importance of reducing tensions between India and Pakistan and maintaining peace in the region,” the White House said.
The readout added, “The two leaders further discussed how they will continue to strengthen United States-India economic ties through increased trade, and they look forward to meeting again soon.”
Earlier, on Aug. 16, less than a month after he offered to mediate the Kashmir imbroglio during a White House meeting on July 22 with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and making the dubious claim that Prime Minister Modi had requested him to do so—which was immediately shot down by New Delhi saying there was absolutely no truth to it—President Trump informed Khan that he’s on his own where Kashmir is concerned.
During a telephone conversation with Khan on Aug. 16, just before the closed door meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Kashmir, was clearly told by Trump that Pakistan had to resolve the Kashmir issue bilaterally with New Delhi.
Hogan Gidley, deputy White House Press Secretary said, “The President conveyed the importance of India and Pakistan reducing tensions through bilateral dialogue regarding the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.”
According to Gidley, during the 20 minute conversation Trump and Khan had also discussed other “regional development,” including progress on the Afghan negotiations with the Taliban to facilitate the U.S. troop withdrawal from that war ravaged country where the U.S. has been fighting its longest-war going into its 18th year.
The spokesman also said there was also a recap between the two leaders of Khan’s recent trip to the U.S. “and the momentum created by their recent meeting,” and both countries desire to get the U.S.-Pakistan relationship back on track.
Earlier, on Aug. 12, India’s Ambassador to the U.S. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, told Fox News that the U.S. President had made clear that his Kashmir mediation offer was no more on the table.
Shringla appearing on Bret Baier’s ‘Special Report’ on Fox, said, "President Trump has made it very clear that his offer to mediate on Jammu and Kashmir is dependent on both India and Pakistan accepting it. Since India has not accepted the offer of mediation, he has made it clear that this is not on the table anymore.”
Shringla, in the Fox News interview, said this had also been articulated by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. "He says, this issue has to be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan in keeping with the agreements that the two countries have signed--the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration,” Shringla said.
When he was pressed by Baier about the alleged draconian measures by the Indian government in the Kashmir Valley Shringla said: “When the decision was announced, the possibilities of cross border infiltration and terrorism, we know that there would be incitement to violence. We have simply taken preventive steps.”
Shringla further noted, “The restrictions in Kashmir are being eased even as we speak. Tens of thousands of people came out to celebrate the festival of Eid. They went to mosque, they prayed, the shops are open. There's even traffic jams in several cities. And we are progressively easing on the restrictions.”
On Independence Day on Aug. 15, which he hosted at India House, Shringla reiterated the Indian government’s actions and declared that revoking Article 370 was a “very important step towards national integration, and one that the people of India have been waiting for 70 odd years.”
Shringla also spoke of the billions of dollars that the Government of India had allocated for the development of Jammu and Kashmir, over the past several decades, but “unfortunately, very little of that money has percolated down to the grassroots levels to the people to whom this money should have reached.”
"Now, there is a historic opportunity to allow the state to reach its full potential, to economically integrate itself with the rest of India and thereby move beyond what our Prime Minister refers to the constraints of Articles 370 and 35A, which only brought to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, secessionism, terrorism, nepotism and corruption," he said.