'Would love to be mediator' of Kashmir issue between India, Pakistan, says Donald Trump; MEA says Modi made no such request

President Donald Trump on Monday offered to mediate the decades-long Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, signaling a shift in long-standing US policy that the issue must be solved bilaterally.

Kashmir has been divided between both countries and China since the end of British colonial rule in 1947, and remains at the root of tensions between the two nuclear-armed South Asian countries.

"If I can help, I would love to be a mediator," Trump said at the White House, where he was hosting Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan. "If I can do anything to help, let me know."

It is far from the first time that Trump has offered to intervene in a seemingly intractable international dispute. US mediation, which has long been sought by Pakistan, is likely to be rejected outright by New Delhi.

In a clarification, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveehs Kumar wrote on Twitter that no request has been made by Modi to Trump regarding the resolution of the Kashmir issue, adding that an engagement with Pakistan would require the end of cross-border terrorism.

On Friday, Trump said he remained at the ready to help South Korea and Japan solve their lingering dispute over World War II-era forced labor that has blighted their trade ties.

In 2017, he offered to mediate territorial disputes in the South China Sea between China, Vietnam and other Asia-Pacific countries -- a proposal that did not move forward.

India and Pakistan have been fighting over the Himalayan former kingdom for decades.

In February, a suicide bombing claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group killed 41 Indian troops in Indian-controlled Kashmir, prompting tit-for-tat air strikes between the two countries.

Some 70,000 people, mostly civilians, have died over the past 30 years in Indian-administered Kashmir, monitoring groups say.

The fighting is between Indian soldiers -- who number around 500,000 on the ground -- and rebels wanting either independence or union with Pakistan.

With inputs from AFP

Updated Date: Jul 23, 2019 00:22:34 IST