Former union minister Natwar Singh (L) and Shashi Tharoor (R)
Former union minister Natwar Singh (L) and Shashi Tharoor (R)

Modi wouldn't seek third-party mediation in Kashmir issue: Cong on Trump's mediation claim

ANI | Updated: Jul 23, 2019 12:29 IST

New Delhi [India], July 23 (ANI): Top Congress leaders on Tuesday backed India's stance on US President Donald Trump's offer to mediate with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, reaffirming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would never ask any third party to mediate.
The US President, during his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday, had expressed his desire to mediate the "issue of Kashmir" between the two South Asian neighbours on "Prime Minister Narendra Modi's request."
However, India has categorically denied the Prime Minister making any such request, with Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar saying "all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally."
Speaking to ANI on the claim made by Trump, former Minister of State for External Affairs and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said Trump may not have been briefed on the issue.
"Trump does not know what he is saying. Maybe he did not understand the issue or nobody briefed him. Impossible that Modi will ask anyone else because it is our clear policy that we do not want third-party mediation. If we have to talk to Pakistan, we will do that directly," he said.
Echoing Tharoor's view, former External Affairs Minister and Congress leader Natwar Singh said it was "strange" for Trump to make such a statement.
"I found it very strange that the US President has given such a statement. It is very unlikely that our Prime Minister has asked for mediation. No Indian Prime Minister has ever asked for intervention. It has been our policy that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and it will remain so," he said, adding, "Trump is a unique President. He is unpredictable. After three days, he can deny what he said."
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the Prime Minister must clarify the matter in Parliament.
During Monday's meeting with Imran Khan at the White House, Trump had said, "Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked me to help with the Kashmir issue; I would love to be a mediator."
Minutes after Trump's statement, India's Ministry of External Affairs clarified that no such request was made Modi to the US President.
"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," Raveesh Kumar had tweeted.
"...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," Kumar said in a subsequent tweet. (ANI)