New York: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi targeted Pakistan in his presence for backing terror against India, US President Donald Trump on Monday deflected a direct question on Pakistan-based terror and again offered to mediate on the Kashmir issue if both countries wanted him to.
During a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan on the margins of the UN General Assembly, Trump, when asked by a reporter on whether he endorsed India’s assertion that Pakistan was the “hub of terrorism”, said he had always pointed to Iran being the “number one” terror state.
Trump further said he had heard a “very aggressive statement” on Monday from the Indian Prime Minister that he indicated he had not expected, though it had been “well received” by the audience of more than 50,000 at the “Howdy, Modi!” event in Houston.
In Texas on Sunday, Trump shared the stage with Modi and positioned himself as a close friend of India. The US President, in his speech to the Indian diaspora gathered at the NRG stadium, said fighting radical Islamic terror was among the top shared agendas between Washington and New Delhi.
He was in the audience when Modi launched a thinly veiled attack on Pakistan for nurturing and supporting cross-border terrorism.
Asked about the possibility of mediating between India and Pakistan and on the Kashmir issue, Trump said on Monday: “If I can help, I would certainly do. It will be dependent on both of these gentlemen [Modi and Khan], one without the other doesn’t work if you’re going to do mediation or if you’re going to do an arbitration.
“Certainly I would be willing to help if both Pakistan and India wanted me to do that. I am ready, willing and able. It’s a complex issue, it’s been going on for a long time but if both wanted it I would be ready to do it.”
Trump said he believed “India may come” forward for mediation and that he had a “very good relationship with Prime Minister Modi [and] Prime Minister Khan” and if “they say you know we have some points that we can iron out, I think I’d be an extremely good arbitrator”.
Asked if he endorsed India’s contention that Pakistan was a “hub of terror”, Trump replied: “I really have been pointing much more to Iran”. He described Iran as the “number one state of terror in the world” and said the Iran nuclear deal “didn’t cover that”.
When asked about alleged human rights violations in Kashmir, Trump said, “Sure, I’d like to see everything work out. I want it to be humane, I want everybody to be treated well.”
On a question about whether he trusted Pakistan, Trump replied: “People in my position have treated Pakistan very badly…I wouldn’t say Pakistan has treated us too well either but maybe there was a reason. In fact, I think there was a reason for it.”
Pointing to Khan, who was sitting next to him, Trump added, “I trust this gentleman right here and I do trust Pakistan.”
Trump also said he had heard Pakistan had “made great progress” in tackling terrorism under Khan, who he described as a “great leader”. He added, “I think he wants to make great progress. There’s no solution the other way, the other way is only going to lead to death and chaos and poverty.”
Trump had himself accused Pakistan of lies and deceit in a New Year’s tweet in 2018, for not doing enough to combat terrorism despite receiving billions of dollars from the US.
He had gone on to suspend all security related aid.
But he has softened his stand since to seek Pakistan’s help in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table to end the Afghanistan war that has gone on for 19 years.
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