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US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, Sep 25, said he discussed Kashmir with the top leadership of India and Pakistan and offered to arbitrate or mediate as the two nuclear-armed neighbours remain “at very serious odds” and he told them “fellows, work it out”.

Addressing a news conference marking the end of this three-day UN General Assembly (UNGA) visit, Trump said he had “very productive” meetings with both leaders on the sidelines of the UN general assembly session.

He said Kashmir was discussed at the meeting and “I offered arbitration or mediation or whatever it is because they are at very serious odds right now and hopefully that will get better,” according to media reports.

Describing both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan as “good friends of mine”, Trump said: “I told them, fellows, work it out.”

“You look at the two gentlemen heading those two countries, two good friends of mine. I said, fellows work it out, just work it out. Those are two nuclear countries, gotta work it out,” he said.

Trump had first met Modi on Sunday at an Indian American and Indian community event at Houston where Modi slammed Pakistan without naming the country for its criticism and diplomatic push to get India censured for its move on Kashmir.

After this, Trump held his first bilateral with Khan in New York on Monday and Modi on Tuesday. Trump’s comments came a day after this. The two leaders mainly focused on issues related to terrorism emanating from Pakistan and the Indo-US bilateral trade.

When asked to comment on Trump’s remarks, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India position is “very clear.”

“I think it has been articulated by the Prime Minister earlier. It was articulated yesterday (Tuesday) by the foreign secretary so that position remains,” Kumar told reporters at a briefing.

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Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had told reporters after the Modi-Trump meeting that the Prime Minister “made it clear that we are not shying away from talks with Pakistan.”

“But for that to happen, we expect some concrete steps to be taken by Pakistan. And we do not find any effort by Pakistan taking those steps,” Gokhale had said.

A White House readout on Wednesday said Trump “encouraged” Modi to improve relations with Pakistan and fulfil his promise to better the lives of the Kashmiri people.

Gokhale had said during the meeting, PM Modi explained in detail to Trump the challenges faced by India because of terrorism, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, where 42,000 lives have been lost in the last 30 years due to terrorism.

Both Modi and Khan are scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on Friday.

Tensions between the two countries have spiked since India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and statehood, splitting it into two Union Territories. It evoked strong reactions from Islamabad, which downgraded ties and expelled the Indian Ambassador.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue, but India has asserted the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter” and maintains that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and no third party has any role in it.

Imran Khan and other Pakistan officials have been on a campaign to highlight what they call human rights violations in Indian Kashmir, calling measures put in place to ensure security in Kashmir as violative of the basic rights of Kashmiri people.

India has pointed out that lives have not been lost and there has been no unrest in the region, contrary to the scary pictures painted by Pakistan of “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” in the region.

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