‘Fellas, work it out’, Trump tells Pakistan and India

US President Donald Trump holds a press conference in New York, September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. - Trump said Wednesday he encouraged India and Pakistan to work out their differences in separate meetings with their prime ministers this week. "I said, 'Fellas, work it out. Just work it out,'" Trump told a news conference after attending the UN General Assembly. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

–US president says two nuclear countries at very serious odds, but they got to work it out


NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he encouraged India and Pakistan to work out their differences in separate meetings with their prime ministers this week.

“I said, ‘Fellas, work it out. Just work it out’,” Trump told a news conference after attending the United Nations General Assembly.

“Those are [the] two nuclear countries. They’ve gotta work it out,” he said, adding that the two neighbors remained “at very serious odds”.

Tensions between India and Pakistan reached a feverish pitch on Aug 5, when New Delhi unilaterally annexed occupied Kashmir, revoking a constitutional guarantee that gave a special status to the disputed territory.

A strict lockdown and communications blackout was imposed in the region that has snapped off ordinary people’s internet and mobile telephone service across much of occupied Kashmir. The clampdown has continued for over 50 days.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the United States to take up Kashmir dispute, but India has long refused outside mediation.

The call for dialogue came after a massive gathering for Indian PM Modi in Houston on  Sunday, wherein Trump had showed his support for the Indian premier by attending a rally with him before Indian-Americans. In the rally, the Hindu nationalist leader accused Pakistan of fomenting extremism.

Trump first offered to mediate on the Kashmir issue during a meeting with Prime Minister Imran in July, following by multiple offers becoming an arbitrator in the dispute. India, however, denied the offers, calling the issue a “bilateral matter”.

On Monday, addressing a joint press conference alongside Prime Minister Imran ahead of their meeting, Trump on Monday once again offered to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue. “If I can help, I will certainly do that,” he said. “If both [Pakistan and India] want, I am ready, willing and able to do it.”

The US president had noted that Kashmir’s was a complex issue that had been going on for a long time, but emphasised that arbitration could not be carried out unless both parties involved welcome it.

Asked whether he was concerned about the human rights situation in occupied Kashmir, Trump had said, “Sure. I would like to see everything work out. I want everybody to be treated well.”

Prime Minister Imran on Monday urged President Trump to understand the seriousness of the Kashmir issue, as the latter reiterated his mediation offer if both parties agree to it.

The PM had also held a press conference at the UN, wherein he said Pakistan was disappointed by the international community’s lukewarm response to the human rights violations committed by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir after the abrogation of its special status.

Prime Minister Imran is set to address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Sept 27 where, as part of his government’s efforts to internationalise the 70-year-old dispute, he will apprise the global community about the seriousness of the burning issue.