Taking a U-turn on his earlier offer to mediate between Pakistan and India to resolve the Kashmir issue, US President Donald Trump now says the two countries can ‘handle their own dispute’.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump met on the sidelines of a G7 summit in France on Monday.
It was expected that the US president would press the Indian premier to lift a communication blackout in Kashmir and show “utmost restraint”.
But Trump has reportedly taken a back foot. AFP reported that Trump says Modi told him that he had Kashmir “under control”.
Modi, speaking alongside Trump, said the Kashmir issue was a bilateral one between India and Pakistan, the agency said.
Ahead of the talks between the two leaders, AFP reported, stone-throwing protesters in Indian Kashmir killed a driver of what they thought was a military truck, police said Monday, as the crippling security lockdown in Kashmir entered its fourth week.
Among other issues, Trump was also expected to inform Modi about the US-China trade war and the way forward, the Economic Times had reported.
The two leaders were also likely to discuss the situation in Hong Kong, a Chinese territory where protesters are demanding democracy.
The publication had quoted a US government official as saying that the US expected India-Pakistan relations to come up during the discussion too.
“The president will like to hear from Prime Minister Modi on how he plans to reduce regional tensions and uphold respect for human rights in Kashmir as part of India’s role as the world’s largest democracy,” another US government official was quoted as saying before the Trump-Modi meetup.
“India’s decision on Article 370 in Kashmir is an internal one, but has regional implications. President Trump would like to know how Prime Minister Modi intends to calm regional tensions in light of this significant move,” the official had said.
It was expected that Trump would emphasise on the need for dialogue between India and Pakistan and make a case for India lifting communication and movement restrictions in Kashmir, one of the officials quoted above had said.
On August 5, Modi’s government revoked the autonomy of the Muslim-majority territory where tens of thousands of people have been killed in an uprising against Indian rule since 1989, most of them civilians.
New Delhi sent reinforcements to the estimated half a million troops already stationed in Kashmir, cut phone lines and the internet, placed severe restrictions on movement and arrested thousands, according to multiple sources.
The turning of the former Himalayan kingdom of seven million people into a fortress of barricades and barbed wire has not prevented protests and clashes with security forces taking place, however.
In the latest demonstration on Sunday in Anantnag district protestors hurled stones at a truck that they believed to be a military vehicle. A 42-year-old driver was struck on the head and died, police said.
The Press Trust of India news agency said two men had been arrested over the incident.
Gandhi sent back
India says no civilian has died from police action since August 5.
But residents have said three people have been killed, including a young mother who choked after police fired tear-gas canisters into her home.
Multiple hospital sources have told AFP at least 100 people had been hurt during the lockdown, some with firearm injuries.
Authorities say they have been easing restrictions gradually but a delegation led by key opposition figure Rahul Gandhi was turned away at Srinagar airport on Saturday after flying in from New Delhi to assess the situation.
“It’s been 20 days since the people of Jammu & Kashmir had their freedom and civil liberties curtailed. Leaders of the Opposition and the Press got a taste of the draconian administration and brute force unleashed on the people when we tried to visit Srinagar yesterday,” Gandhi tweeted on Sunday.