India again rejects Trump's Kashmir mediation offer

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center left, meets with India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool Photo via AP)

BANGKOK (AP) — India on Friday again rejected President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate its dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir.

India’s foreign minister said he told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that any discussion of the disputed Himalayan region would be between India and Pakistan only. The two men met on Friday on the sidelines of an Asian security forum in Bangkok. India has long refused outside attempts to resolve the conflict while Pakistan has sought international help.

“Have conveyed to American counterpart @SecPompeo this morning in clear terms that any discussion on Kashmir, if at all warranted, will only be with Pakistan and only bilaterally,” Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar said in a tweet. He said he and Pompeo had wide-ranging discussions on regional issues.

The State Department had no immediate comment.

Trump said last month that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently asked him whether he would like to be a mediator or arbitrator on Kashmir, which has been the cause of two wars between India and Pakistan, something New Delhi has denied. Trump reiterated his offer to intervene on Thursday, telling reporters he is willing to mediate but a decision would be up to Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“If I can, if they wanted me to, I would certainly intervene,” Trump said.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, the Himalayan territory they both claim and which is divided between them. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents who have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan. Islamabad denies the charge. About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown.

India snapped official dialogue with Pakistan on outstanding issues after Modi’s government came to power in 2014 demanding that Pakistan first end cross-border terrorism.