By Arul Louis
New York– Although US President Donald Trump had said that he is talking with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan about Kashmir, there was no specific mention of it in the official US readout of their meeting.
The readout of the meeting in Davos on Tuesday makes only a mention of “regional issues” among the many topics discussed, chief among them Afghanistan, where the US is negotiating a settlement with the Taliban.
According to a White House transcript, before their meeting Trump said: “We’re talking about Kashmir and the relation to what’s going on with Pakistan and India. And if we can help, we certainly will be helping.”
He added: “And we’ve been watching that and following it very, very closely.”
Trump was careful in his wording about possible involvement in the Kashmir issue compared to the past, qualifying his statement with the preface, “if we can help.”
It apparently takes into account India’s opposition to any third party involvement in the Kashmir or other disputes between the two countries because of the 1972 Simla Agreement in which the two countries agreed to deal with their disputes bilaterally.
Trump created a diplomatic furore in July when he claimed before a meeting with Khan in Washington that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate or arbitrate the Kashmir issue.
He said that when he met Modi in Osaka in June during the G-20 Summit, “We talked about the subject, (and) he actually said, ‘Would you like to mediate, mediate or arbitrate?’ I said, ‘Where,?’ (and he said) ‘Kashmir’.”
India strongly denied Trump’s claim about the request for his involvement in the Kashmir issue.
Before his meeting with Khan in New York in September, Trump had said that he would “be an extremely good arbitrator” in the two countries asked him to “iron out differences”.
“And if at any time they say, you know, ‘We have some points we think you can maybe iron out,’ I think I’d be an extremely good arbitrator,” he added.
According to the transcript of remarks before the Davos meeting, Khan suggested that Washington play a role in resolving the issues with India.
He said, “For us, in Pakistan, it’s a big issue. And, of course, we always hope that the US will play its part in resolving it because no other country can.”
The focus of the talks between Trump and Khan on Tuesday was on Afghanistan, where the US is negotiating with the Taliban for peace deal that would allow the US to withdraw its troops from there or considerably scale back their presence.
Trump would like to reach a deal with the Taliban, which is backed by Pakistan, before the November elections so he can claim he kept his 2016 poll promise of bringing back US troops from the longest war it has been involved in.
Khan’s leverage ith Trump comes from his influence with the Taliban, who have found sanctuaries and help in Pakistan even as they waged war against the US in Afghanistan.
The readout of the meeting said: The two leaders agreed to continue efforts to seek a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan that would bring peace and ensure terrorists can no longer operate from the country.”
Before their meeting, Khan said that during their discussions “the main issue, of course, is Afghanistan because it concerns the US and Pakistan. And, fortunately, we are on the same page. Both of us are interested in peace there and an orderly transition in Afghanistan with talks with Taliban and the government.”
Asked by a reporter if he would be visiting Pakistan during his forthcoming trip to India, Trump said he will not as he was meeting Khan in Davos.
“Well, we’re visiting right now (with Khan), so we won’t really have to. But we — I wanted to say hello for both a relationship standpoint — we’ve had a great relationship — and from the standpoint of our two countries,” Trump said.
He added, “We’re getting along very well. I would say we’ve never been closer with Pakistan than we are right now. And that’s a big statement, although I wouldn’t say at all times we were close, as a country. But we are very close right now because of the relationship that we have. So it’s very important.” (IANS)