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.