Rahul Gandhi urges Narendra Modi to clarify Donald Trump's claim that he was asked to mediate in Kashmir issue

Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked him to clarify US president Donald Trump's statement saying that Modi had asked Trump to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

Rahul added that if the statement was true, India's prime minister had betrayed the country's interests and the Shimla Agreement of 1972. He changed focus to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and said that a weak response in the form of denial from the ministry will not serve as enough clarification.

Rahul also urged Modi to inform the nation of the exact talks he had with the US president.

Rahul's statement comes in the backdrop of Trump's meeting with Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan, during which the US president claimed that India had asked him to act as a mediator in the Kashmir issue. India's position has consistently been to reject third-party mediation in its dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, which New Delhi considers a bilateral issue.

Trump said that he had discussed the Kashmir issue with Modi, whom he recently met at the G20 last month in Osaka, Japan. “He actually said, ‘Would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?’ I said, ‘Where?’ He said, ‘Kashmir.’ Because this has been going on for many, many years,” Trump said. “If I can help, I would love to be a mediator,” he said.

But the official spokesman for India’s ministry of external affairs, Raveesh Kumar, said Modi had not asked Trump to help mediate. “It has been India’s consistent position ... that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally,” Kumar wrote on Twitter.

Trump's claim made many Opposition leaders to question the foreign ministry and Modi and asked them to give the Indian citizens a real picture of all the diplomatic talks the two leaders had.

Reacting to the MEA's assertion, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said reiteration of time tested line on 'no mediation on Kashmir' is welcome. "Why is PM 'mum' on what transpired between the two heads of states, more so when it affects our sovereignty?" Surjewala asked.

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, took to Twitter and said, "I honestly don't think Trump has the slightest idea of what he's talking about. He has either not been briefed or not understood what (Prime Minister) Modi was saying or what India's position is on 3rd-party mediation."

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah wondered whether the Indian government will call the US President a liar or there has been a shift in India's position on third party involvement in dispute.

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury asked whether "our twitter-friendly PM" has the courage to rebut the US president who has made a public statement. "What does this say about our long-held position of sovereignty over the Indian state of J&K, as defined in the Simla Agreement?" he said. "India has always maintained its a bilateral issue, with no scope for third-party interference. What is this government upto?" Yechury asked.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jul 23, 2019 13:59:45 IST