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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

A spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement on Monday denying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked President Trump to mediate the conflict between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region.

"We have seen @POTUS's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President. It has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India & Pakistan bilaterally."

Context: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a meeting with Trump Monday that he would welcome the president's help in mediating the 70-year conflict in the disputed territory, where tensions between the two nuclear powers bubbled up earlier this year.

  • Trump responded that Modi asked him two weeks ago whether he would like to be a "mediator or arbitrator," and said he'd follow up with the Indian prime minister.

Why it matters: Indian media and politicians instantly jumped on Trump's comments, claiming no Indian prime minister would dare seek third-party mediation.

  • The 1972 Simla Agreement signed by both nations was designed by India to "constrain Pakistan from involving third parties in discussions about the future of Kashmir," delinking the border from UN resolutions in order to ensure that the issue was a "purely bilateral affair," per The Hindu.

The bottom line: Modi asking Trump to intervene would have amounted to a stunning and embarrassing request, which is likely why the government was so quick to outright reject the president's claim.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.